Hilltoppers knock off Bulldogs in WIAA boys’ basketball regional

GLENWOOD CITY — Baskets were at a premium when the fourth-seeded Glenwood City boys hosted fifth-seeded Boyceville in a WIAA Division 4 basketball regional quarterfinal game Tuesday, March 3.

Boyceville, who finished the contest just 10 of 55 or 18 percent from the field, and Glenwood City, who more than doubled that tally with 17 of 44 shooting for 38 percent,  were knotted at nine points aside after the first quarter of play.

While the home-standing Hilltoppers were not exactly lighting the nets on fire, they did manage to pull ahead in the second quarter by outscoring the Bulldogs for an 18-13 halftime advantage.

It was a lead that Glenwood City would never relinquish as it was able to slowly add to its lead in the second half, thanks in part to a 10-1 advantage at the charity stripe, for a 13-point win, 40-27, and a three-game season sweep of Boyceville.

“Not an easy feat at all,” noted Glenwood City coach Tristan Kittilson. “We had to work and earn every victory. Hats off to them (Boyceville), they played very hard and pushed us all the way to the end in all three games.”

A solid defensive effort helped keep the Bulldogs in the contest throughout much of the game, something that did not come as a surprise Kittilson.

“We were expecting it,” said the Glenwood City coach of the Bulldogs zone defense and full court pressure.

“They do a really nice job of mixing their zone looks and then have recently started springing man-to-man as well which I thought they played very good as well,” stated Kittilson.

“We have had to rely a lot on our defense this year to be competitive and keep us in games,” said Ben Luer, Boyceville’s first-year head coach.

“This year was a rollercoaster type season (up and down!),” continued Luer. “We won four straight games in the middle of the year because of our defensive effort. We had five games that were decided within five points or less.”

“We knew if our defense wasn’t there it would be hard for us to win,” Luer added, noting that his Boyceville squad had surrendered 38 three-point shots to opposing offenses in the final seven games of the regular season.

That is nearly five and a half treys per game. Boyceville did much better against Glenwood City last Tuesday evening surrendering just a pair to Toppers, who do like to shot the long ball.

“Glenwood City has some good offensive players that create mismatches for a lot of teams,” Luer stated. “Creating a game plan for them, defensively, is difficult because they have possibly the best three-point shooter in division 4 (Jake Hierlmeier) and they also have an all-conference player in the low post (Todd Petersen).”

Luer said that double threat makes it difficult to play the Toppers defensively.

While the Bulldogs worked to take away the Toppers shots, Glenwood City was able to build a decided advantage at the free throw line where it hit 10 of 16 attempts while the Bulldogs made just one of their four tries.

“Well, we had the foul count in our favor,” noted Kittilson. “And so with that we did a nice job of hitting our free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”

That helped the Hilltoppers extend a five-point lead into a double-digit win.

The Bulldogs had a balanced scoring attack in the opening quarter with Brady Schutts, Brett Boda and Mitch Leach each knocking down two-point field goals. Leach also added a triple.

Glenwood City, meanwhile, leaned heavily on its all-conference center Todd Petersen to help keep pace with the visiting Bulldogs. Petersen scored three baskets in the paint. Marcus Kadinger chipped in with a two-point hoop and Kip Wallace added a free throw.

Neither team sizzled the net cords in quarter number two but the Hilltoppers were able to match their first quarter output as Wallace canned his only three on the game and added a pair of charity tosses while Kadinger and Petersen each made a hoop.

The Bulldogs were only able to manage a pair of baskets – one by Brett Boda and that other from Jake McIntyre as the visitors trailed 18-13 at the intermission.

The Toppers doubled up the Bulldogs in the third quarter as Petersen scored five points on a pair of hoops and a free throw and Nick Schone nailed the Toppers’ second three of the game to outpoint the Bulldogs eight to four for a 26-17 lead.

Leach and Boda provided the two hoops.

The final period proved to be the Bulldogs’ best offensively speaking as it scored ten points on baskets by Schutts and Boda along with a three from Leach and a Tyler Draeger free throw.

But the Toppers also enjoyed their best offensive effort of the game scoring 14 points including ten at the free throw line to salt away the victory.

Kadinger had five points in the final frame with a three-of-four performance at the line and a basket, Wallace had a pair of baskets, and Hierlmeier tallied four points with a hoop and 2-of-4 effort at the line.

Todd Petersen finished with a game high 13 points in the 40-27 win. Kip Wallace added ten points followed by nine for Kadinger and four each from Schone and Hierlmeier.

Mitch Leach led the Bulldogs with ten points while Brett Boda finished with eight and Brady Schutts and Jake McIntyre each tallied four points.

“The game plan going in was to take care of the ball, rebound and play good man-to-man defense,” said Kittilson. “I thought we did each of those things well enough to win the game.”

The win sent the Toppers into a March 6 regional semifinal match-up against Eau Claire Regis, the state’s top-ranked D4 team (see story elsewhere in this issue).

Six Bulldogs seniors – Brady Schutts, Brett Boda, Justin Schulz, Mitch Leach, Tyler Draeger and Jake McIntyre – played in  their final game.