Feb. 4, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – What a week it has been for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team! With an 86-77 victory at UW-Marinette on Saturday, the team completed a week-long sweep of three consecutive come-from-behind road trip victories over very tough opponents, and Thursday were awarded a special experience from the University of Wisconsin in Madison for the Wildcats achieving its first WCC Eastern Division championship since 1979.
On Monday the team rallied from an early deficit to take a slim 3-point lead at halftime, then managed to play even in the second half at UW-Sheboygan to preserve a narrow 3-point victory, after defeating UW-Sheboygan by only 2 points earlier in the year.
The Wildcats had a regular practice on Tuesday.
Then Wednesday, the team traveled to play at UW-Fox Valley and scored a basket at the buzzer to tie the game at halftime, then battled every possession in the second half finding themselves in a tie game with 3 minutes to play before going on a 12-6 run to close the game and clinch the division title.
The next night, the University of Wisconsin Badgers graciously hosted the UW-Washington County Men’s basketball team, celebrating their first title in 39 years, as the Wildcats men’s basketball team got to sit in the first row behind the Badgers bench for the game against Northwestern.
Following a spirited practice on Friday, the Wildcats left at 7:45 a.m. destined for UW-Marinette.
Since the snow had not started yet, the arrival time was considerably early, and after dropping the women’s team off at the gym, the bus driver was kind enough to take the men’s team for a short but interesting tour of Marinette and Menominee, Michigan.
The guys got to see the battleships being built in Marinette, and see the beautiful shoreline of Menominee, where an iced-over bay stood in sharp contrast to the players’ mental pictures of Lake Michigan in the southern portion of our state. For some of the players, it was their first ever trip into the state Michigan.
The men’s team arrived back at the gym in time to see the start of the women’s game, then assembled in their locker room a few minutes later for their detailed pre-game scouting session and team discussion.
When the game started, the UW-Marinette Buccaneers came out firing on all cylinders and led most of the first half, though the Wildcats stayed close and closed the margin to 2 when the buzzer sounded. The Buccaneers hit shot after shot and controlled a 45-43 lead at halftime, but the Wildcats regrouped and made adjustments for the second half, just barely making it back on the floor for the start of the period.
Then the Wildcats opened the half with a 20-2 run that changed the complexion of the game. The Buccaneers rallied and outscored the Wildcats by 7 the rest of the way, but the game ended with UW-Washington County extending its school record conference winning streak to open the season to 14, in spite of many extremely close games. The Wildcats overall record stands at 16-1.
Five players scored in double figures for UW-Washington County in the game Saturday. The scoring leader for the Wildcats was J Braxton Thomas with 17 points to go with 4 rebounds. The Wildcats trio of Juniors (in name – not in grade as they are all freshmen) each scored exactly 12 points. AJ Barnes, Jr. added 5 rebounds and 3 assists, Ahmad Pender, Jr. had 5 rebounds and 2 assists, and David Wiley, Jr. added 4 rebounds and 2 assists while hitting 4 of his 5 shots from the floor and both of his free throws.
Adrian Huerta scored 10 points, had 6 rebounds and 2 clutch interception steals which resulted in layups. Koy Walsh grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the team and had 9 points. Derrick Chaney added a pair of assists and 6 points. Tariq Frett sparked the Wildcats with 5 points right before half to help the team close the margin of deficit.
Due to considerably snowy conditions, the UW-Washington County Men’s and Women’s teams returned to West Bend at 8:15 p.m. after a long day, and the conclusion of an incredible week.