WIAA boys basketball: Seniors hope for edge from 2015 experience
Three Prescott seniors were on the 2015 boys basketball team that lost in the WIAA D3 state semifinals to Brown Deer.
When they overslept for team breakfast because their alarms didn’t go off a lasting memory was created.
The clock said 6:20 a.m. and there was pounding on the door because the team was supposed to meet in the lobby to leave the hotel at 6:15 a.m.
“I still think about that morning so much,” Nick Simon said. “It was so terrible when I woke up and saw the clock.”
Simon and Owen Hamilton then tried to wake Luke Murphy, who was sound asleep and continued to stay asleep.
“I don’t remember any of it,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t awake. I don’t know what they expected (my reaction to be).”
Now seniors, the trio doesn't expect to make the same sophomore mistake before the Prescott prep boys basketball team tips off against Lake Mills at 1:35 p.m. Thursday, March 16 in the WIAA D3 state semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison.
As the Cardinals (23-3) prepare for their game against the L-Cats (24-2 overall), who are making their first trip to state in the school’s basketball history, they will benefit from other experiences playing in the Kohl Center.
“My first shot down there (in 2015),” Hamilton said, “was from the elbow and I was like five feet short.”
Murphy and Simon said the differences are subtle, but the lack of a wall behind the backboard can disorient a shooter in the arena that seats 17,230 people.
“It’s hard to shoot in the Kohl Center because it’s a lot different," Simon said. "We were all down there sophomore year, so we know what to expect. Here you have the wall right behind it, but at the Kohl Center there’s a lot of blank space.”
Added Murphy: “It messes with your perception and how far away you are. So you just have to know where you are on the floor instead of looking at the basket.”
Simon continued: “Ya, you really just need to rely on muscle memory from shooting in (our gym) and and coach said just try to aim small and miss small.”
That could end up being a big deal on Thursday afternoon because Lake Mills relies heavily on the 3-ball.
Senior Brady Wagner has shot 197 3-pointers and junior Hayden Iverson has taken 195 3-pointers.
These guys aren’t just chucking up 3-balls, though. Wagner made 46.2 percent of the threes this year and Iverson connected on 44.6 percent.
For context, Simon leads Prescott in 3-point attempts and he’s only shot 146 3-pointers.
“Even (146) seems like a lot to me,” said Hamilton, a 7-foot-1 Northern Illinois recruit who has made three of his nine 3-point attempts on the season.
Asked how he will prepare for the challenges of shooting with the vast Kohl Center backdrop, Hamilton said: “I’m just going to keep (my shots) within five feet, and I’ll be fine.”
There is genuine reason to wonder whether Lake Mills will be able to defend Hamilton. The L-Cats are a run and gun team that scores with efficiency, but the team’s best defender, Ben Dunkleberger, is listed at 6-foot.
Lake Mills has a 6-7 senior, Alex Brocker, and a 6-6 sophomore, Raiden Berg, but they don’t combine to average a point scored per game.
Fast facts about Lake Mills:
- Senior Alex Ranney was named the Capitol North Player of the Year after averaging 19.8 points per game and 10.3 rebounds
- Senior Brady Wagner and Ranney were first-team all-Capitol North
- Juniors Hayden Iverson and Ben Dunkleberger were given second-team honors