MADISON, Wis. – Top-seeded Nicolet (26-1) overcame a slow start to post a 70-46 win over Elkhorn in the Division 2 semifinals of the 2019 State Boys Basketball Tournament Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
The Knights jumped out to an early eight-point lead before the Elks went on a 13-0 run to take a 20-15 lead with 6:37 remaining in the half. Nicolet went on a 6-0 spurt at the end of the half to own a 25-24 advantage at the intermission.
The Knights scored the first eight points of the second half and never looked back, outscoring Elkhorn 55-22 in the period. They built their largest lead of the game at 27 with a 70-43 advantage with two minutes remaining.
Kobe Johnson led all scorers in the game with 20 points for the Knights. Jalen Johnson scored 16 points with a game-high 11 rebounds and four steals. Jamari Sibley also netted double figures in scoring with 13 points. The Knights were particularly good on the offensive glass, converting 12 boards into 16 second-chance points.
Elkhorn was led by Luke Umnus with 13 points. He also dished out a team-high four assists. The Elks shot 51 percent from the field in the game, but were plagued by 22 turnovers, which led directly to 22 points for the Knights.
Elkhorn (23-4) falls in the semifinals of their fifth State Tournament experience, and the Knights attempt to win their first title in program’s third State appearance.
Second-seeded Milwaukee Washington (22-5) returns to the Division 2 title game for the second straight season following a 72-71 overtime victory over La Crosse Central in the second State semifinal Friday.
Michael Foster hit a three-point shot with 25 seconds remaining in overtime to draw the Purgolders to within one at 71-70. On the ensuing to Red Raider possession, Foster blocked a shot in the paint to prevent La Crosse Central from extending its lead. His shot with four seconds left from just inside the arc on the right wing on the Purgolders’ next possession turned out to be the game winner.
Washington fought back from a 42-28 deficit at the 15:35 mark of the second half to take a one-point advantage with 4:18 left in the contest. The Purgolders led 63-61 with four seconds remaining, but Jonathan Davis hit a pair of clutch free throws to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Johntae Martin led four Purgolders scoring in double figures with 15 points. Foster scored 14 points with nine rebounds and five blocks, and Chianti Clay added 12 points with Deontay Long chipping in 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Davis led the Red Raiders, pouring in a game-high 31 points. Noah Parcher scored 16 points and dealt out a game-high six assists. David Hayden contributed 12 points, and Terrance Thompson led the team with 10 rebounds.
La Crosse Central (25-2) is eliminated from the title chase in its fourth straight appearance and its 18th overall. The Purgolders will play for the program’s fifth State championship.