Local boys teams prepare for the intensity of playoff basketball
By Paul Lecker
In one of the better local games of the regular season, Auburndale defeated Spencer 53-52 in a nonconference matchup back on Jan. 3 at Spencer High School.
This Friday the Rockets and the Apaches will take to the court again with much more at stake.
Spencer (18-5) will play at Auburndale (15-7) in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal contest Friday night at 7 p.m.
The third-seeded Rockets are coming off an impressive 74-63 victory over Stevens Point Pacelli in a D-4 quarterfinal at home Tuesday in front of an interested Auburndale squad that was there to scout their first playoff opponent. The Apaches are the No. 2 seed in the regional and received a first-round bye.
Junior Bobby Pilz scored 30 points, and three other Rockets scored in double figures to counter a 40-point night from Pacelli’s James Gollon.
In the early-season matchup, Spencer made 12 of 18 3-pointers and got 23 points from both Pilz and senior guard Nate Mercier.
Auburndale senior guard Matt Nikolay had 21 points, making four 3-pointers. He scored 11 points in the final nine minutes in the back-and-forth game that ended with Pilz missing an off-balance jumper at the buzzer.
“We hope we can play like we did tonight,” Spencer coach Randy Reckner said following the Rockets’ win Tuesday. “Auburndale is a very good team and do a lot of the same things that we do. We mirror each other a little bit. We have to go in with the confidence that we can play with them and win on the road. I think the kids are really excited about this game.”
Columbus Catholic (15-8) survived an upset bid by Abbotsford (4-19), beating the Falcons at home 58-48 in overtime in a WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The Dons will host Pittsville (11-12) in a D-5 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
That game is also a rematch between two teams that played earlier this season. Pittsville beat the Dons 34-31 way back on Nov. 28 at the Cranberry Classic at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption.
Evan Nikolai scored 15 points for Columbus as only five Dons hit the scoring column in the loss. Pittsville led by nine after three quarters before the Dons made a game of it late.
In Division 1, Marshfield (6-16) will travel to Chippewa Falls (13-9) for a regional semifinal on Friday.
Chippewa Falls shot 62 percent overall and was 9 of 15 from 3-point range in a 64-48 win over the Tigers on Dec. 30 at Marshfield.
The Tigers made a season-high 10 3-pointers in the loss and shot 45 percent but were unable to stop the Cardinals. Aaron Knez had 24 points for the Cardinals.
Marshfield enters the game with a four-game losing streak, all losses coming by three points or less.
WIAA Boys Basketball Playoffs
Regional semifinals, March 6
Division 1: Marshfield (6-16) at Chippewa Falls (13-9).
Division 4: Spencer (18-5) at Auburndale (15-7).
Division 5: Pittsville (11-12) at Marshfield Columbus Catholic (15-8).
Regional finals, March 7
To be determined