The seventh-seeded Spring Valley Cardinals were eliminated at home in the first round of the Division 4 WIAA playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 27 by the No. 10 Chetek-Weyerhaueser Bulldogs.
The Cardinals finished the year with a 12-11 record, and graduate five seniors — Jack Walkky, Craigen Anderson, Mason Johnson, Kado and Zack Williams.
The Bulldogs (8-13) created a 17-6 lead for themselves midway through the first half behind a nine-point effort from Alexander Kaminski. With 4:28 to go in the first half, Kaminski brought his team to a 27-15 advantage, but the Cardinals soon got a better grip on the 6'2" forward's offensive habits.
SV finished the first half on a 7-0 run with threes from Kado and Dylan Bosshart and a free throw from Aaron Borgerding. After narrowing a once 15-point margin to just eight points before the break, head coach Rob Bosshart felt his team was in good shape going into the final half. "We thought that we could pick up our effort level defensively and establish a couple of things on offense," coach Bosshart said.
But the Bulldogs came out scoring on their first three possessions, pushing their lead back up to 12.
"From that point, we were never able to mount a serious run on them," Bosshart said.
The Cardinals were able to quiet down Kaminski in the second half, but 6'5" Kyle Bilodeau gave the home team quite a bit of trouble in the paint.
"We didn't have any answer for their big guy," Bosshart said, "and he was pretty much able to score at will in the paint."
On top of Bilodeau's 15-point performance and Kaminski's 19 points, Andrew Loy also proved to be an offensive weapon for the Bulldogs. Loy led C-W in scoring with 20 points. He and Kado were the game's leading scorers with 20 apiece.
Williams, who averaged 8.6 points per game as a senior, said it was difficult hanging up his high school basketball career in a game where he and his teammates failed to play to the best of their abilities.
"Honestly, it was tough," Williams said. "It was a tough game, and we didn't play the way we know we can and the other team took advantage of that."
Despite their Tuesday night loss, Williams said he is proud of his fellow seniors and the entire team for how far they've come this year, and as is the case for most seniors, it'll take him some time to come to terms with the closing of his high school basketball career.
"It'll take awhile for it to hit me that one of the sports I love to play is over ... that I'm never going to play on the court with that group of guys competitively again," Williams said. "We are a family. I wish them the best of luck in the years to come."
"The guys I played with were like my second family, and they are all my brothers," Kado said echoing Williams sentiments. "I love them so much and would give anything to play with them again. I had so much fun this year."
Kado led the Cardinals in rebounding this season with an average of 8.1 boards per game. He also was the team's third-leading scorer with an average of 10.9 points per game.
"We are sorry to say goodbye to our five seniors from this year's squad," Bosshart said. "They improved tremendously from the time they came into the program as freshmen, and were part of some very good teams the last few years."
C-W saw the No. 2-seeded Grantsburg Pirates (18-3), who received a bye in the first round, on Friday, March 2 in the second round of regionals.
Scoring for the Cardinals: Kado 20, Borgerding 12, Bosshart 10, Williams 6, Anderson 4.
Scoring for the Bulldogs: Loy 20; Kaminski 19; Bilodeau 15; Jared Newell 6; Phillip Gilbertson 3; Bronson Schofield, Dakota Herrman 2; Carter Hanson 1.