East Troy High School senior Nicholas Bourdo (No. 33) holds up the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 sectional championship plaque after the March 10 win over Edgerton. The boys opened state tournament yesterday at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Trojans lost the state semifinal to Prescott, 65-53, ending their season at 19-2 overall. (Eric Kramer photo)

Boys take out Middleton, 66-53, in semifinal

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

If the East Troy High School boys basketball team had any let down after a thrilling win two days before, it certainly didn’t look like it Saturday afternoon.

In fact, it was just the opposite.

The Trojans raced out to a 30-18 lead over Rock Valley Conference foe Edgerton in the first half of a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 sectional final at Middleton and cruised to a convincing 66-53 win and a berth in this week’s State Tournament in Madison.

East Troy will be making its third appearance at state under head coach Darryl Rayfield and its fourth overall.

“Every time we start the year, our goal is always to get to Madison,” he said. “I don’t think that ever changes, but the expectations of this year’s team was to go and win a conference championship and to each week get a little bit better.

“We had no idea that (state) was where we were headed. … It just kind of came together.”

Rayfield pointed to a 25-point win over Beloit Turner on Feb. 19 as when he began to think a deep tournament run for this group could be possible.

“We were just getting more consistency from everywhere,” he said. “After that game, we said, ‘Hey, we’re pretty good.’”

Defense set the tone Saturday against Edgerton, a team the Trojans swept in two games during the regular season.

“We played really, really good defense,” Rayfield said. “We knew that we had to get into transition a little bit, so locking up defensively, rebounding real well and being able to play a little faster than we had been able to the last couple games (was a key).

“We were able to do some things that we are really good at, more (things) that we like to do.”

Sophomore A.J. Vukovich, who leads the Trojans at 20.8 points a game, poured in a game-high 34 Saturday, including 12 of East Troy’s first 15. Vukovich also had seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Rayfield said the familiarity between the conference foes actually worked in the Trojans’ favor, as Edgerton’s defensive game plan was to try and take away East Troy’s outside shooters.

And that left the 6-foot-4 Vukovich in many one-on-one matchups, and he took full advantage.

“He ran the floor really, really hard,” Rayfield said. “He got some passes from two or three different guys. They were getting to our 3-point shooters, (Vukovich) was running, and he had some opportunities that were really good situations for us and for him.”

Jered Brehm added 14 points for the Trojans, while Quinten Lottig had eight. Logan Mitchell had five rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Nick Bourdo grabbed 10 rebounds.

Donovan Cone led Edgerton with 13 points, while Clayton Jenny had nine.

Edgerton tried to make a push in the second half, as a trio of missed bonus free throws by the Trojans helped the Tide cut a double-digit deficit to single digits late.

But from there, East Troy got back on track from the free-throw line, as it made six straight down the stretch to seal the deal. Nick Bourdo also had a key 3-pointer during the Trojans’ final scoring rally.

“They made a little push there, but I don’t think it was ever in danger,” Rayfield said.

Rayfield said he had a number of thoughts going through his mind as the final seconds ticked down and another state tournament berth was clinched.

“I just thought about all the people that have been involved in with what we’ve been doing,” he said. “You just don’t know when you’re going to get back (to state). We’ve been very, very fortunate,

“This group just loves playing with each other. They love hanging out together. We have a good mix of young kids. We have four seniors, one juniors, and the rest are underclassmen. The seniors have just been really good to the underclassmen, and I think that’s why it works.”

The boys lost to Prescott, 65-53, in the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament semifinal Thursday afternoon. See next week’s editions of the East Troy News/Times for full coverage of the Trojans’ state run.

 
 

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