MADISON (WKOW) — The Sun Prairie Cardinals defeated the West Allis Central Bulldogs, 62 – 60, in a heart-racing overtime dandy to advance to Saturday’s D1 state title game.
The game appropriately had a big-time feel to it, with crowds from both schools at a fever pitch during pregame and with each basket their respective team scored.
Sun Prairie led 16-11 after a Glenn Martin drive and layup midway thru the opening half, but West Allis would crank up the intensity in what was already an electric atmosphere.
Shilo Bowles took control over the final five minutes of the first half. Down 16-14 after a Cameron Drury three, Bowles’ and-one put the Bulldogs on top, 17-16. Bowles followed that with another bucket from close range, but it was his emotion that proved most infectious during the stretch that saw West Allis go from down two to up seven at 26-19 with 47 seconds to play in the half.
Bowles tallied 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half, scoring 10 straight for the Bulldogs at one point.
To close the half, Cooper Nelson’s layup got Sun Prairie within a handful, but Robert Varnell’s corner three to beat the buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 29-21 lead at intermission.
After both teams exchanged buckets during the early portion of the second half, Sun Prairie’s Delaware Hale and Alex Voigt rallied the Cardinals into the driver’s seat.
Hale scored consecutive layups, including one during which he was fouled, to cut the West Allis lead to one with just under 11 minutes to play. After missing the subsequent free throw, Voigt secured the offensive board and scored the putback to put Sun Prairie back on top, 39-38.
Moments later, Hale would block a second-chance attempt from Jacob Fierst, then would use his wiry frame to deflect a pass as the Bulldogs were looking to push the tempo on a potential fast break. That loose ball would be secured by Sun Prairie, and Dawson Hughes would drain a floater while being fouled to extend the lead to 41-38 with 9:21 remaining.
Hale picked up his fourth foul with 8:56 to go, however, sending him to the bench until the home stretch of the game.
A spinning drive and runner by Martin would give the Bulldogs the lead before Hughes answered for the Cardinals, re-taking the lead at 44-43 with 6:14 to go.
After another Cam Drury three put West Allis back on top by two, Martin slashed thru the lane to drop in another floater and extend the Bulldog lead to 48-44 with 4:02 remaining.
Hale then emerged from the bench and brought the Cards within two on a layup, and Voigt hit a pair of free throws after Bowles’ fourth foul to tie the game once again at 48 apiece with 2:20 to go.
Still tied with under a minute to play, Anfernee Auston’s nifty pass to Hale for a monstrous two-handed dunk put the Cards in front, 50-48, with 48 seconds left in regulation.
After a West Allis timeout, Martin found himself with the ball in his hands and a chance to tie. His shot in the lane was blocked by Colin Schaefer, however, and Voigt was fouled after grabbing the loose ball.
He would only make one of two free throws, though, giving the Bulldogs one more chance to extend the game — which they did.
With mere seconds remaining, the Bulldogs took the ball downcourt and Martin, atoning for the previous possession, swished a three from the wing despite heavy traffic to send the game into overtime at 51-51.
In the extra period, the Cardinals took a brief lead on a pair of Voigt free throws before Fierst’s three put the Bulldogs back up, 54-53.
Unlike Sun Prairie’s Hale, who was able to avoid picking up his fifth and final foul, Shilo Bowles fouled out moments later, with the Bulldogs up 56-53 with two minutes left in OT.
Voigt made both free throws yet again for Sun Prairie to draw within a point, and Cooper Nelson’s driving layup with 93 seconds left put the Cardinals back on top, 57-56.
After a couple Bulldog misses, Sun Prairie tacked on three more free throws to make it 60-56 with 17 seconds to play. Martin’s pair of free throws cut the lead to 60-58, but he had to commit his fifth and final foul to extend the game for West Allis.
Schaefer calmly sank both free throws to make it 62-58 with nine seconds. Despite stifling Cardinal defense, Jaqunis Rhodes was able to make a heavily-contested shot inside while being fouled to bring the score to 62-60 with 0.9 seconds left — and an opportunity for a last-second tip-in try to send the game to a second overtime.
Rhodes successfully missed the free throw, but couldn’t get a fortuitous bounce on the rim, draining the last of the time off the clock and sending Sun Prairie to the D1 title game.
They’ll face Brookfield-Central at 8:15 Saturday night.