Going back to last fall and the first game loss to Little Chute, maybe the Dominican boys basketball team was just the Duane Wilson and Diamond Stone show.
But in the mind of Wilson, the 6-2 silky-smooth guard who will head to Marquette next fall, it's become so much more than that, even after Wilson's 26 points and Stone's 22 led the Knights to their second straight WIAA State Division 4 championship with a 57-44 win over a game Aburndale squad this afternoon at the Kohl Center in Madison.
"Back then, everybody else on the team were looking for me and Diamond to do everything," Wilson said. "Now they have more confidence. They're looking to do more things on their own. It's not just Diamond and Duane anymore."
"It's the Dominican Knights."
Wilson was being a bit modest, for included in his efforts, was the fact that he almost single-handedly held the Apaches off in the fourth quarter, scoring all 14 of the Knights' points.
Therefore, in the mind of first-year coach Derek Berger, it was the Dominican Knights team led by two great players performing at their peak.
"That's a tough question," said Berger if this was the best game the talented pair have had together this year, "but in the context of the game (for a state championship), it probably was their best combined game on the same night."
"Both played well and both brought their 'A' game."
And allowed the Knights to earn their fourth overall WIAA championship (the others being in 2004 and 2005) and finish up their fine season at 24-4. They became the first D4 team to repeat in D4 since Randolph in 2010 and 2011.
Aburndale finished the year at 26-2.
In leading the way to this particular title, Wilson and Stone weren't just all about points. Wilson added seven assists, one block and one steal to his line while Stone had 16 rebounds and three blocks. Stone almost certainly influenced many other Aburndale shots through his long 6-9 reach.
The pair did get help though. Players like 6-6 forward Jack Jelacic (six points and five rebounds) and guards Chris Topp and Jaylin Daniels did't show up in the stat box a great deal, but they complimented Stone and Wilson with stout defense and hand's-on intensity.
That allowed the Knights to work past a stellar effort by Apaches' senior forward Austin Hawkins, who scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
He scored all of Aburndale's 10 points in the first quarter as Dominican took a 15-10 lead. But Stone, who towered over the Apaches' tallest starter (6-4), hit two shots in a row, including a beautiful lob from Wilson on the second effort to make it 8-4 with 4:23 left in the period.
The Knights would never trail again as Wilson and Stone would be become a recurring theme.
Especially in the second quarter, as Hawkins, who would finish the half with 16 shots, hit a fadeaway jumper over Stone to tie the score at 17-all with 4:03 left in the half.
But that's when Wilson and Stone, working within the team context, took over.
They paced the Knights to an electrifying 12-0 run to make it 29-17 with 1:54 left in the half. Stone started it out with a monster slam and Wilson followed with a 3-pointer, and then a spectacular drive and dunk of his own.
After a Topp basket, Wilson fed Stone for another dunk and Stone finished off the outburst with a deft tip-in.
The run was keyed by Wilson's acute awareness of how much attention Aburndale was paying to him and that resulted in some very easy looks for the big man Stone.
"We knew that they were big and physical," Wilson said, "but coming down the court, I could see that Diamond was open almost everytime (I drove). He was just open every single time. And I just took what they gave me. It allowed me to get more assists and opened up things for everyone else."
"We just dominated in the paint."
That Dominican did to the tune of a 38-6 point advantage in the lane.
Aburndale would battle back, however, closing the deficit to 29-23 at the half.
And the Apaches would push hard once more in the third, as a three-pointer from Blake Anderson and a baseline jumper from Hawkins closed the gap to 31-30 at the 4:26 mark.
It was 33-32 Dominican when Jelacic hit a tough shot in traffic in the lane and then Wilson followed with a pretty drive to make it 37-32 with 3:03 left in the third.
The margin would never drop below three after that.
And in the fourth quarter, Wilson just decided to emphasize the point that he was the best player on the court. He would hit six of seven free throws and turn in a dazzling split of two defenders for a beautiful lay-up among his one-man 14-point run.
He scored the last points of his marvelous career on a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left, stretching the margin to the final score.
Then he came out to hugs and a fine round of applause.
Berger was almost hoarse in his praise for Wilson, Stone and the rest of the team.
"I'm just really thrilled and proud for all of my guys," he said. "From Nov. 5, the first day of practice until now, it's just been a full commitment and sense of effort."
His ace guard, who like Berger said, brought his "A" game, agreed.
"This feels great," Wilson said of going out as a back-to-back champion. "Not many players get to do this even once, and once we got here, it became a great chance to show what we all can do."
"It was also a great team experience. A family trip. We had a lot of guys who were not here last year and for them to get this experience is great."
"Because not many people get to go out as a champion."
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