MADISON — Jake Hierlmeier had an extra special presence with him when he stepped on to the Kohl Center floor to take part in the first-ever WIAA 3-point Challenge last Saturday morning.
On what was his grandfather Hank Hierlmeier’s birthday, March 21, the younger Hierlmeier sizzled the nets and set the bar high as the first of ten competitors to take the Kohl Center hardwood in the inaugural 3-point Challenge held prior to the start of the WIAA’s Championship Saturday for the state boys’ basketball tournament.
Hierlmeier, a Glenwood City senior, scored 20 points in the opening (quarterfinal) round of the Challenge.
“I definitely felt his presence here today,” said Jake of his grandfather Hank, who passed away two years ago.
Jake’s 87 year-old grandmother Ginny Hierlmeier, who lives in Stoughton, was there to watch and cheer him on along with his parents Gordy and Angela Hierlmeier, siblings, coach Tristan Kittilson, and several of his Glenwood City teammates and fans.
“I just wanted to be able to go out there right away,” said Jake Hierlmeier after the competition. “I practiced all week so I was able to go out there and set the bar high and I knew that I would have to make the guys chase me.”
And that is just what Hierlmeier did.
His 20-point performance set a standard for the entire field to chase.
Sophomores Riley Geiger of Loyal and Oshkosh North’s Phillip Flory both tied Hierlmeier’s point tally. Those three along with Tanner Bruchs of Poynette, who scored a 19, advanced to the semifinal round of four competitors.
“I was nervous last night,” admitted Hierlmeier. “I didn’t sleep but once I got here this morning and began to warm up, I wasn’t nervous anymore.”
Hierlmeier was again the first competitor to take the floor. After a slow start, he finished strong and collected 15 points.
Unfortunately for the Toppers’ senior, the next two competitors that followed both eclipsed his point tally. Phillip Flory scored 18 points and Riley Geiger finished with 17 as the pair advanced to the final round of two. The fourth semifinalist, Tanner Bruchs scored 16 points.
Geiger continued his hot hand into the final round and canned his final eight shots to score 20 points to take the inaugural 3-point Challenge title. Flory finished second with 16 points.
Hierlmeier said it was quite an experience to be on the Kohl Center floor.
“I always thought I would make it to the Kohl Center but just not this way,” Hierlmeier concluded.
There were five stations located around the three-point arc with five balls at each station including a final (multi-colored) money ball. Contestants received one-point for each made basket and two points for a made money ball. Most points possible per round was 30.
First Round Results: Jake Hierlmeier, Glenwood City; Riley Geiger, Loyal; and Phillip Flory, Oshkosh North – 20 points each; Tanner Bruchs, Poynette – 19; Christian Haffner, Gresham and Bailey Kale, La Crosse Central- 18 each; Blake Johnson, Oshkosh West and William Brown, Delavan-Darien – 14 each; Logan Maulick, Freedom – 13; and Cole McDonald, Darlington – 7.
Semifinal Round Results: Phillip Flory, Oshkosh North – 18; Riley Geiger, Loyal – 17; Tanner Bruchs, Poynette – 16 and Jake Hierlmeier, Glenwood City – 15.
Finals Round Results: Riley Geiger, Loyal – 20 and Phillip Flory, Oshkosh North – 16.