Nicolet boys outlast Whitefish Bay in double OT thriller, 78-76
Nightcap of twinbill a pleaser
Whitefish Bay - One for the ages and then some.
That's what everyone in attendance agreed upon as the Nicolet boys basketball team pulled off a remarkable 78-76 double overtime victory over host and rival Whitefish Bay last Friday.
Nicolet, despite foul trouble, built an 18-point lead by early in the third quarter, then Bay roared back and actually took a brief three-point lead late in regulation.
The Knights had an excellent chance to finish off the Blue Dukes in the first overtime, but then Bay executed a perfect play to junior center Christian Lane to tie the score at the buzzer.
Bay was actually up by one late in the second OT, but Nicolet point guard Treland Jenkins broke the press and got the ball to forward Tyler Miller for what coach Paul Hepp called "a tremendous thunder dunk".
The Blue Dukes came down missed a shot and the Knights' Greg Pigg, who led all scorers with 25 points, got the rebound and was fouled with eight seconds left. He made the first throw, missed the second and everyone held their breath as Bay brought up the ball for one last chance.
"We tried to make it a tough shot," said Hepp.
"It was a decent shot, but it could have been better," Blue Dukes coach Kevin Lazovik said.
As it was: It was off the mark and the Knights pulled off the upset over the second place in the North Shore Blue Dukes.
Hepp was amazed.
"Our theme of the year has been that so much of the game is mental," he said. "This was the start of the second round (of the conference schedule). We knew what they would do and they knew what we would do.
"I was just so proud of the kids' efforts," he continued. "They could have folded at any time but they didn't and Bay was just so tenacious in its comeback. We were just fortunate to make just one more play."
Lazovik tried to take a philosophical viewpoint.
"I'm sure in a year or two I'll look back and view this as just a great high school game," he said, "but for the moment, I'm just sick about it."
Lazovik is sick because the loss makes it almost impossible for Bay (6-2 in North Shore and 11-4 overall) to catch defending state D1 champion Germantown (8-0, 13-0) in the league race.
The Blue Dukes will host the Warhawks on Friday. Meanwhile, the Knights (5-3, 7-6) moved over .500 overall and remained in a tie for third in the league standings. They will be at Homestead this Friday.
The team will be hard-pressed to match last Friday's effort for excitement.
Top Nicolet scorer benched
Another remarkable facet of last Friday's game is the fact that one of Nicolet's two top scorers, Miller, was on the bench with two fouls for all but three minutes of the first half.
But Pigg went off for 13 points in the second quarter, hitting every shot he attempted (all four two-pointers, a single three-pointer and two free throws) as Nicolet blew open a 16-15 first quarter lead to a 42-26 advantage at the half.
"You could see it in warm-ups that Greg was just in a flow," Hepp said. "He really stepped up."
Hepp also noted that Jerry Luckett, Jimmie Scales and Alex Dranzik all came off the bench for big minutes in that second session.
"We were a bit slow on our rotations," Lazovik said, "but give Nicolet credit. We could have done a better job contesting shots, but they sure knocked them down."
But Bay came back, closing the gap to 54-48 by the end of the third period before staging one last push to tie the score at the end of regulation.
"Our group just believes that it is never out of a game," Lazovik said.
"Bay is a good team for a reason," said Hepp. "I think they must have knocked down their first five shots of the third quarter. They were determined to make it interesting and they did."
Which led to the drama of the overtime.
Pigg led the way for Nicolet as Jenkins had 15, Miller 11 and Eugene Bonner 10. Meanwhile, Bay was led by guard Kelin Johnson with 22, while Miles Sigh had 16, Joe Sherburne 15 and Lane nine.
Hepp said that the girl-boy doubleheader aspect of the evening also played into the excitement. The Knight girls also pulled off an upset with a 29-24 decision over the Blue Dukes (see separate story).
"It was definitely a fun environment," he said. "The guys watched a lot of the girls game and I think that got them fired up. Both sides (of the stands) were into the game and I think that helped get us going and helped get us off to a good start."
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