Whitefish Bay Dominican played like it was on a mission Saturday afternoon and crushed Howards Grove, 78-47, to win the sectional championship at Brookfield Central.
Thus the Knights return to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. They were knocked out of the sectionals the last three years by Racine St. Catherine, and coach Paul Wollersheim did not want to see that happen again.
"For us to break through on Thursday (win over Brookfield Academy in the semifinals) and get an opportunity to play today, we're really, really excited," he said.
"It was a heartbreaking loss last year to St. Catherine's. We had beaten them twice during the season in really hard-fought games. We remembered that (loss) all season. We showed some tapes of that during the playoff run to see the energy level you have to play at to get to state."
The Knights played great defense in their victory Saturday and that is something that they don't always get credit for.
"People see that teams score 60 points on us," Wollersheim said. "But they get more possessions because we're scoring a little bit quicker. I think when we really dig in on defense, we can be right up there with some of the best teams in the state defensively."
Wollersheim is happy with the way his team his playing right now as they head to next week's state tournament.
"I thought the regional final and the sectional semifinal - those were both games that if we didn't have our 'A' game, those would have been opportunities for upsets. Once we got through that, we understood the energy level and we just played another really good game today.
"I think we're sharing the ball, we're playing fast, we're playing together and having fun."
The Knights only trailed 3-2 before they went on a 11-0 run and took a 15-5 lead after one quarter as freshman Diamond Stone had eight points.
They had a nine-point second quarter advantage led, 41-22, at intermission. Breon Jordan had 14 while Stone and Duane Wilson had 12 each. Wilson, the talented junior guard, went crazy in the second half, with 10 points in the third quarter and eight in the final period.
"The whole team was (on a mission)," Wilson said. "Dominican hasn't been to state (since 2008) and coach kept drilling this into us that we are one of the best teams to come out of Dominican. He said the other best team lost this game, so we took that personally.
"We practice hard every day and that has been the mission all season - to go to state. We work hard (on defense). You're not going to win a championship without playing defense."
The Knights shut down the Tigers' top scorer Ashton Holzman (15.1 ppg) and held him to nine points, as he rarely even looked for his shot. Mike Davis (14) and Noah Steines (11) led Howard's Grove.
Wilson had 30 points, Stone 16 and Jordan 14.
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