If there was ever a panic time this season for Whitefish Bay Dominican, it may have been at halftime of the Division 4 state semifinal against undefeated Cuba City on Thursday night at the Kohl Center. Duane Wilson had just two points, and the Knights were down three.
Wilson was not going to let his team down. The senior erupted for 17 points in the second half to power Dominican to a 55-47 win, punching the Knights' ticket to the state final for the second straight year.
Dominican now plays Auburndale (26-1) at 12:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon as the Knights shoot for back-to-back state titles, a feat they last accomplished in 2004 and 2005.
“I told the guys we might not be where we want to be at halftime,” said Dominican coach Derek Berger. “But at the end we will be. I think we started to wear them down at the end.”
A pair of free throws by Cuba City’s Preston Droessler cut the deficit to only 47-41 with 2 minutes and 47 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. After a missed free throw by Dominican (23-4), Einar Frimodt drilled a 3-pointer for the Cubans to cut the lead to just three points.
After getting his teammates involved for much of three quarters, it was Wilson's time to shine, and he was the brightest when it counted most. After Frimodt’s 3-pointer swished through the net, Wilson quickly got the ball and drilled a jump shot of his own to keep Dominican ahead 49-44 with 2:04 left.
After Jack Jelacic added a free throw for Dominican, Wilson scored back-to-back layups to put the game out of reach and put Dominican back in the title game.
“I am not sure how he got into the paint and made some of those shots,” said Cuba City coach Jerry Petitgoue. “I have a lot of respect for Wilson; he is the real deal.”
Last year Cuba City’s season ended courtesy of Wilson and company, 63-41, in the state final.
“We knew this was going to be a revenge game for them,” said Wilson, who played every minute of the game. “They were not going to go away.”
After a sluggish first half, Sophomore Diamond Stone took over in the second half to finish with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. A monstrous two-hand dunk by Stone set the tone early in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-10 forward spun out of a double team in the paint and got to the rim in a flash.
“I thought we had a good game plan on Stone for most of the game to be honest with you,” said Petitgoue. “He just takes away your whole inside game. To win, you have to make 15 to 17 foot jump shots.”
Cuba City (26-1) struggled to do so and finished shooting 28.3 percent from the floor (17 for 60.) Still the Cubans hung around thanks to a stout defense that forced tough shots early. Dominican made just 7 of 24 field goals in the first half. They also forced Wilson, a Marquette recruit, to turn the ball over four times. Cuba City also hit nine three pointers, four coming from Jason Derby, who finished with 12 points.
“I think them and St. Catherine’s are the two best coached teams I have ever faced,” said Wilson. “They don’t have superstars, they play as a team.”
Petitgoue has won more than 840 games in his stellar high school career thought Duane Wilson was “right near the top” of players he has ever seen.
“I could see him being Marquette’s starting point guard for the next four years,” said Petitgoue. “He is that good. This senior class for our state has been something else.”
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