If one play can sum up the night for 6-foot-9 Whitefish Bay Dominican freshman Diamond Stone, the first play of the fourth quarter comes to mind in Thursday night’s WIAA Division 4 state semifinal against Colfax.
Stone, who had been solid in the post all game, denied Colfax junior Lane Olson not once but twice for blocks 10 and 11 on the game. He would go on to block a WIAA state tournament record 14 shots in leading the Knights to a 66-44 victory and a spot in Saturday’s state championship game.
“In practice we work on staying behind the player and I’m 6-9 and (Olson) is 6-6 and he went up and I blocked it,” said Stone in his understated tone. “I just take every game like a normal game. No pressure.”
Stone added 15 points and 15 rebounds to post a triple-double for the Knights (26-1), who are back in a state title game for the first time since 2005.
“Diamond’s presence in the middle was special,” Dominican coach Paul Wollersheim said of Stone, who eclipsed former Randolph star Greg Steimsma’s 2002 single-game blocks record of 12 in the state tournament. “Our guards did a good job of taking their leading scorers away, and with Diamond playing behind (Olson) in the post like he was, he was the guy that was open, so that’s where they went with the ball.”
Even Olson, who finished with 16 points but shot just 3 of 22 spending much of the night going against Stone, offered nothing but compliments to the Knights' rookie.
“Diamond is just an amazing player,” said Olson, who also had 13 rebounds. “I’m not used to seeing that at all. I’ve never played anyone that big before. I knew I had to go up into him and look for a foul. I got a few. He’s just hard to move.
“He moves his feet for his size very well. I was looking to get around him. He’s a heck of a player.”
The big guy may have had the numbers in the post, but the Knights swarmed defensively as a team, tallying 11 steals, forcing 17 turnovers and holding Colfax (24-3) to 11 of 54 (20 percent) shooting on the night.
“We had a tough time scoring and that is attributed to their defense,” Colfax coach Andy Meade said. “We weren’t shooting great, but they are tough defensively. Diamond was unbelievable.”
The Vikings made a push in the second quarter that got them as close as 20-14, but a 7-0 run propelled by back-to-back steals pushed the lead back to double figures in no time, and Colfax never recovered.
With junior Duane Wilson pouring in a game-high 22 points and six assists from the point guard position and senior Jamall Taylor adding 15 points and seven rebounds, the Knights found their answers.
“Duane really got back into the flow of the game,” Wollersheim said, referring to a period after Wilson sat with two fouls early in the second quarter. “With Duane on the bench (when the lead was cut to six in the second quarter) it was big for us to keep the momentum and keep them at arm’s length.”
Awaiting Dominican in the state final at 12:35 p.m. Saturday is Cuba City (27-0), which punched its ticket with a 72-27 win over Oshkosh Lourdes in the most lopsided state tournament victory in the history of the WIAA state tournament.
The Cubans punished Lourdes with its 1-3-1 zone defense that led to 22 steals, posing a big challenge to the Knights.
“I don’t think you can attack it one way,” Wollersheim said of going at the Cubans’ defense. “(Cuba City coach Jerry Pettitgoue) has been around long enough that if you are hurting it in one way, he is going to make an adjustment. You have to have several ways to attack it.
“Other than Germantown, I think they are the best team we have seen all season. For either Coach Pettitgoue or myself, it is going to be a fitting end to the season because whoever wins that game is going to feel real proud about taking that gold ball home.”
Pettitgoue, who notched career win No. 820 in the Cubans' victory earlier in the night, has 6-6, 270-pound Trent Denlinger, who had 12 points in the Cubans’ victory Thursday and will be ready to battle Stone in the post Saturday.
“It should be a good game going against a 6-6, 270-pound guy and I’m 6-9, 230,” Stone said of his matchup with Denlinger, who will walk-on to play for the Wisconsin football team in the fall. “It should be exciting.”
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