Austin Jackson scores two of his 17 points against Oconomowoc on Friday in the Badger’s loss in the opening round of WIAA playoffs. (David Baker photo)

Austin Jackson scores two of his 17 points against Oconomowoc on Friday in the Badger’s loss in the opening round of WIAA playoffs. (David Baker photo)

Oconomowoc team ‘more physical, athletic and well-coached’

By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

The Lake Geneva Badgers faced a tough challenge in their Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regional semifinal against Oconomowoc on Friday and came up short 64-43.

Oconomowoc (18-6, 13-1) was the Wisconsin Little Ten Champion and seeded No. 6 compared with Badger (12-11 (9-5 Southern Lakes Conference) with a No. 11 seed.

“It was a good season after a really tough start,” Coach Forrest Larson said. “With the injuries we had to start the year, the first four weeks of the season were not good.”

Leading scorer Jake Berhorst and 6-foot-7-inch center Austin Jackson both missed significant time leading to a 2-6 start. The Badger rebounded by finishing the season 10-5, but the early season losses meant facing a tough opponent in the first round of the tournament.

“We never got anything in place early, and it felt like we were playing catch-up all season in terms of getting our offense and defense in place,” Larson said. “The team fought back and showed some good resilience and toughness.”

Oconomowoc took control in the first half with solid defense that forced several Badger turnovers. Larson said the points Oconomowoc scored off of turnovers were the difference in the game. Badger trailed at the half 41-27.

The second half was more of the same as Oconomowoc outscored the Badgers 23-16. Zach Clayton did the most damage with a game-high 22 points.

“Clayton was the best athlete on the floor,” Larson said. “He made some real good cuts to the rim and made some really good drives. We lost him several times and he scored every time.”

The Badgers were led by Austin Jackson’s 17 points, despite being defended by 6-foot-11 Spencer Treder.

“Austin Jackson was really, really good the second half of the season,” Larson said. “Once he got healthy, he really created a threat inside for us and scored.”

Larson said Jackson went right at Treder with confidence and scored.

“We missed a lot of opportunities to get the ball inside to him,” Larson said.

Berhorst was limited to 13 points. Larson said that was one thing other teams had figured out by the end of the season – stopping Berhorst was the key to stopping Badger.

“Everyone really denied the ball to Jake,” he said. “They got up into him when he had the ball and never helped off of him.”

Larson said that he never found anyone else on the team who could consistently create shots for Berhorst, so Berhorst was forced to create shots for others and also create his own shots against defenses that were keying on him.

“They were much more physical, athletic and well-coached,” Larson said about Oconomowoc. Oconomowoc went on to lose to Madison Memorial 58-55 in the regional final.

Burlington is the only Southern Lakes Conference team that made it to the sectional round. The Demons defeated Waterford in their regional final 68-52. Burlington defeated Wilmot 88-65 in the semi-final.

Westosha Central, a No. 1 seed, beat Union Grove 88-66 in its semi-final but lost to Fort Atkinson 43-31 in the final. Fort Atkinson had defeated Delavan-Darien 74-61. Union Grove defeated Elkhorn 68-64 before losing to Westosha Central.

 
 

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