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WIAA boys basketball: Cards road ends at state in defeat

Members of the Prescott boys basketball team after losing the state championship game to Appleton Xavier. (Herald photo by Jalen Knuteson)

MADISON -- Prescott knew it had to stop Hunter Plamann, the Appleton Xavier guard. Prescott knew it had to stop the fast Hawks transition game.

As the Cardinals attempted to compensate for all of that, they couldn't account for 6-foot-4 junior Nate DeYoung, who scored 18 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Hawks earned a 73-47 victory in the WIAA Division 3 prep boys basketball state championship at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday, March 18. If Prescott could have pulled off the victory, it would have been the third year in a row that Xavier finished as a runner-up for the gold ball. 

Much of DeYoung’s success came from the ability of Plamann to knife through Prescott’s defense and attack 7-foot-1 Cardinals center Owen Hamilton.

“He’s one heck of a player and we didn’t have an answer for him,” Prescott coach Nick Johnson said. “When you can attack a 7-footer and finish around Owen, you’re doing a lot of things right.”

Plamann finished with 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

“He probably had the best game against our defense as anyone has had this year,” Hamilton said. “He had a lot of (baskets) at the rim going around two or three people. That’s something you have to tip your hat to, he played really well.”

The Northern Illinois recruit finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds.

Prescott (24-4) was able to build a 17-10 lead with 10 minutes and 49 seconds to play in the first half. The Hawks (28-0) went on an 11-0 run before Hamilton was taken out at the 5:29 mark after committing his second foul. Xavier took advantage of Hamilton being out as went on 9-0 run.

Xavier coach Matt Klarner said that the team took a while to feel out how the Hawks were going to execute its game plan.

Xavier’s plan of attack defensively to take away Hamilton was a mix of double and triple teams in the post with DeYoung, Jack Teerlinck (6-3), and Will Schlicht (6-5).

“It was probably the most physical game I played this year,” Hamilton said. “They were leaning on me the whole game, which I expected, but I wasn’t really expecting to turn and have another 6-5 guy right there.”

With Hamilton getting extra attention in the post, Prescott shooters were left open on the perimeter, but the Cardinals only made three of their 26 3-pointers.

“To shoot what we shot from the floor, you aren’t going to win many games,” Johnson said. “You have to put the ball in the basket and we just didn’t have it.”

Luke Murphy takes the ball across half court in the second half against Xavier on Saturday, March 18. (Herald photo)The only Prescott player that joined Hamilton in double figures was senior Luke Murphy, who took advantage of open driving lanes to score 10 points.

“Luke is a tough kid. Luke does all the little things correctly,” Johnson said. “He isn’t the tallest kid, he doesn’t have the best shot, but he does everything for us and he has had an unbelievable season.”

Added Murphy: “We knew that they were a great team coming in. We stuck with them in the first half, but they came out in the second half and basically just transitioned us in the second half that we just couldn’t catch up.”

Nick Simon celebrates a 3-pointer which gave Prescott a 6-0 lead. (Herald photo by Jalen Knuteson)The Cardinals will graduate eight seniors, three of which were in the starting lineup.

“What they’ve done in four years at Prescott in the last four years is right up there with any program in the state of Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “They should feel good about their season and feel good about their careers right now.”