The Prairie School boys basketball team had a bit of a scare Saturday night.
For a while, Milwaukee Academy of Science was in control of a WIAA Division 4 regional championship game at Prairie.
But the Hawks got themselves together, took over midway through the second half and rolled to a 57-42 victory over the Novas in the Johnson Athletic Center in Wind Point.
Prairie (20-4) advances to play Milwaukee Destiny (18-5) in a sectional semifinal Thursday at Waukesha West. The Eagles had a strong finish and beat Racine Lutheran 61-45 in another regional final Saturday at Milwaukee. The Hawks have had their season ended by Destiny the last two seasons.
The Novas (15-9) made the Hawks set up their offense farther from the basket than they’re accustomed to, and it had an effect.
“We struggled with their athleticism and their up-the-line style,” Prairie coach Jason Atanasoff said.
Academy of Science led 22-19 lead at halftime and made a 3-point basket to open the second half, and Atanasoff decided that was enough.
“Finally, I just told the kids enough of trying to dictate the tempo,” Atanasoff said. “It’s time to get back to us and playing fast and sharing the basketball.
“I’m just so proud of the boys for not panicking and sticking with it.”
That got the Hawks untracked as they took the lead with about eight minutes left and outscored the Novas 38-20 in the second half.
Senior tri-captains JC Butler, Logan Krekling and Troy Mikaelian led the way. Butler had 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, Krekling had eight of his 14 and Mikaelian had eight of his 12. Krekling also had 11 of Prairie’s 37 rebounds.
One of the keys to the game was the defense of 6-foot-4 senior forward Teddy May on Novas’ 6-9 sophomore center Darius Hannah, who Atanasoff said is already getting NCAA Division I offers.
“He was dynamite against Hannah,” Atanasoff said.
DESTINY 61, RACINE LUTHERAN 45: The Crusaders kept within striking distance of the Eagles throughout the second half before Destiny pulled away late in a WIAA Division 4 regional championship at Milwaukee.
Lutheran (10-15) trailed 28-22 at halftime, them came out strong in the face of full-court pressure and took a 35-33 lead midway through the second half.
“In the first eight to 10 minutes (of the second half), we were terrific,” Crusaders coach Jeff Christensen said.
Lutheran battled toe-to-toe with Destiny (18-5), trailing by just two points (45-43) with about five minutes left, but the Eagles’ full-court pressure, which Christensen called “relentless,” started to wear the Crusaders down, Christensen said.
Destiny finished the game on a 16-2 run.
“They were bigger and more athletic than us, but our kids played really hard and played very smart,” Christensen said. “We can’t fault our effort.”
In their final high school games, senior guard Ryan Hoover led Lutheran with 16 points, shooting 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and senior forward Brent Ogden had 14 points. Freshman Brady Wilks added eight points.
Destiny had three players score in double figures, led by Diovonte Caldwell with 19 points. Reggie Dean added 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
ELKHORN 47, UNION GROVE 35: The last team to defeat Union Grove prior to Saturday did so again. And this time, it ended the Broncos’ season.
Shooting just 12 for 47 from the floor, the Broncos lost to Elkhorn in a WIAA Division 2 regional championship at Union Grove. They had won 12 straight since losing to Elkhorn 56-42 Jan. 9.
A major issue was the presence of Quinn McDonald, who scored nine points, but had a major impact on disrupting Union Grove offensively. Only Jack Pettit, who scored 10 points in his final high school game, reached double figures.
McDonald also helped Elkhorn outrebound Union Grove 34-24.
“When we lose to them, we struggle to put the ball in the basket,” Union Grove coach Dave Pettit said. “We’ve got three guys who can shoot OK from the outside and they did a real nice job of packing in the lane. They’ve got a 6-10 kid and that takes getting to the hoop away from our game.
“Tonight, my three guards that we rely extremely heavily on (Jack Pettit, Riley Hale and Jacob Ross) went 6 for 32.”
Union Grove (19-5) trailed the entire game, but had a chance to tie the score toward the end. With the Broncos trailing 35-32 with 3:58 to play, Hale had the chance to tie the score with a 3-pointer, but it was off the mark.
Elkhorn (17-7) followed with what Dave Pettit said was an easy layup following a “defensive miscommunication.” That extended the Elks’ lead to 37-32 and Union Grove was not able to make another run.
The Broncos will graduate Jack Pettit, Hale and Ross. It was an emotional time for Dave Pettit, who had coached his only son the last four years.
“Absolutely,” Dave Pettit said. “It’s been a pleasure to coach my son and his friends. That last walk out of the locker room was real hard.”
Ross added six points for Union Grove while Hale scored five.
EAST TROY 59, ST. CATHERINE’S 55: The Angels’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion with this close loss in a WIAA Division 3 regional championship at East Troy.
Quinn Cafferty and Elijah Sabala each scored 15 points, but it was not enough to stop a potent one-two punch from a pair of sophomore forwards for East Troy (19-5). AJ Vukovich, who is 6-4, scored 26 points, and 6-6 Nick Bourdo added 19.
They did their most damage in the second half, which St. Catherine’s (17-7) entered leading 31-23. Vukovich scored 16 points in the second half and Bourdo added 14, which included two 3-pointers.
Azarien Stephens added eight points for St. Catherine’s. Isaiah Dodd and Tyrese Hunter added five each.
St. Catherine’s went just 2 for 7 from 3-point range.