Rally leads Waukesha North to overtime thriller
Ortiz hits go-ahead shot to drop New Berlin West from playoffs
The Waukesha North boys basketball team extended its season with a 54-52 overtime victory over host New Berlin West on Tuesday night in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.
North now faces top-seeded New Berlin Eisenhower (19-3), the Woodland West division champion, on Friday night. Eisenhower defeated North, 66-60, on Dec. 28.
The No. 9-seeded Northstars were resilient in trouncing the No. 8-seeded Vikings, who led 39-29 entering the fourth. North utilized an 18-point fourth quarter to complete its comeback after the Vikings led almost from the opening tip until 3 minutes remained in the final quarter. North sophomore Kyle Petersen drilled a three to put his team ahead at that point, 45-44.
After North junior Mark Becker added a pair of free throws, West trailed 47-44 with 54 seconds to play. West senior guard Tyler Thompson tied the game with a 3-pointer from the baseline with 30 seconds left, and North held possession for the final shot. A chaotic sequence led to Becker launching a three at the buzzer, which rimmed in and out to force overtime.
In the extra period, West re-established a 52-49 lead only to see it erased by more clutch shooting from Petersen. Another 3-ball tied the game at 52, and a steal from North freshman point guard Marquis Carter set up the final play.
Carter hit only one shot on the night, a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, but his stellar defensive effort included two key steals in the waning moments.
"The one at the end, I was just watching his eyes," Carter said. "I saw his eyes coming through and had the chance to take it from him," said Carter, who seemed unfazed from taking the brunt of the beating from West's student section. "My dad just tells me to keep my head up and keep working."
With 13.2 seconds left, North senior guard Ruben Ortiz drove to right side of the basket and picked up the decisive two points. West had a chance for a miracle with 2 seconds left, but a desperation shot was blocked at the buzzer.
"I thought we ran a good last play," West head coach Jeff Lewiston said. "We got the ball where we wanted to get it, I thought we got a shot, I thought we got fouled; that's the way it goes."
For the Vikings, who finished 6-17 and last in the Woodland West Conference, it marked the end of what Lewiston called an uncharacteristic year.
"It's very tough to lose this game for your seniors," Lewiston said. "We had a very difficult year. We struggled with shooting, turnovers and with finishing ball games. My seniors didn't quit and worked hard to get the job done. The ending of this game was a microcosm for the season."
North assistant coach Andy Symons, filling in for head coach Greg Polkowski, said attacking West's zone defense inside was a key in turning the game around. Junior forward Cory Michaelis, who finished with a game-high 21 points, played a big role in doing so.
"In the first half, we were sluggish," Symons said. "There wasn't a lot of energy. Then in the second half, we moved the ball better, and we attacked the zone. When we were successful in the zone, they came out of the zone. We got the ball inside, and that opens up looks for us."
Ortiz and Petersen also reached double figures for North with 11 and 10 points, respectively, as North improved to 8-15 overall. Senior forward Austin Fritz led the Vikings with 15 points, while Thompson added 10.
"I'm very proud of them," Symons said. "We've battled through a lot of adversity with our coach gone. The first half was a struggle. It's been adversity like that all year. They did a good job. The energy and the effort is what got us back in the game and won the game in my eyes."
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