Epic comeback carries Ozaukee boys past Lourdes for regional title that keeps WIAA playoff hopes alive
It wasn’t quite the basketball equivalent of the Super Bowl, but the Ozaukee boys’ team pulled off an epic comeback that will live on in school history last Saturday night.
Led by senior Garrett Hoffmann’s 26 points, the Warriors overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to beat visiting Oshkosh Lourdes, 43-34, in a WIAA Division 4 regional title game.
Things looked dismal for Ozaukee in the first half. Nothing went the Warriors’ way, as they fell behind by 18 points and trailed, 22-7, at intermission.
“We didn’t make many shots in the first half,” Ozaukee coach Bob Domach said. “We made some adjustments at half, and that helped our rebounding and defense.
“Those were the main reasons we won. Defense and rebounding will help carry any team that is struggling offensively.”
Ozaukee played zone defense most of the first half, and it prevented inside shots for Lourdes, but the visitors connected five times from outside.
The Warriors went to an aggressive man-to-man defense in the second half, and it stifled Lourdes’ offense.
Ozaukee started the second half with a 21-0 run to take control. Lourdes didn’t score until there were 10 minutes left to play.
The half started off with a bucket by Jared Zausch, followed by two three-pointers by Hoffmann, as the Warriors pulled within 22-15 with 14:28 left.
A Jared Henderson basket was followed by two more hoops from Hoffmann, and Ozaukee trailed, 22-21.
With 11:55 to play, Lourdes’ Austin Kennebeck picked up his fourth foul and Ozaukee’s Mike Street drained a pair of free throws to pull the Warriors ahead for the first time in the game.
They did not trail again.
Hoffmann scored another basket from beyond the arc and added two of three free throws after he was fouled on a three-point shot to give Ozaukee a 28-22 edge with 10:28 left.
The Knights finally found the basket with 10:00 on the clock when Henry Noone scored a three-pointer.
The Warriors’ lead slipped to 30-29 with 4:57 left after another Noone three-pointer and a free throw by Kennebeck.
But baskets by Hoffmann and Mike Street, followed by a Jared Henderson steal and layup, gave Ozaukee a 36-29 lead with 2:20 to play.
Ozaukee then went 6-for-8 at the free-throw line in the closing minutes to ice the victory.
“Our starting five seniors really stepped up,” Domach said. “Jared Henderson played great defense. Joe Lippe, Mike Street and Jared Zausch rebounded great, and Garrett Hoffmann carried us offensively.
“I was not concerned at half. I wasn’t happy we were down 15, but I believed if we played to our potential we were going to win the game.”
Hoffmann’s 26 points led all scorers. He hit three three-point shots.
Street and Zausch each grabbed 10 rebounds.
Noone led the Knights with 14 points.
This week, the third-seeded Warriors (16-8) were scheduled to open sectional play Wednesday with a 7 p.m. semifinal game against Big East Conference rival Howards Grove (19-6) at Sheboygan North. The fourth-seeded Tigers upset top-seeded Lomira, 56-43, last Saturday.
Ozaukee defeated Howards Grove at home on Jan. 12 in the teams’ only meeting this season. Hoffmann had 25 points.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will play the winner of a semifinal between Milwaukee Destiny and the Prairie School in a 1 p.m. sectional final Saturday at Waukesha West.
Ozaukee 65, Kohler 52
Ozaukee earned a hard-fought win over the visiting Blue Bombers in a regional semifinal last Friday.
“It was a tough game,” Domach said.
“We had too many turnovers. But even not playing our best game, we still came out with a solid win.”
After defeating Kohler twice during conference play, Domach was well aware of the adage that it is hard to beat a good team three times in a row.
“Everyone kept telling us that beating a team three times in a season is hard to do. We obviously didn’t believe that myth,” he said.
“We are staying very focused on the task at hand.”
Ozaukee led, 29-17, at halftime.
In the second period, Kohler resorted to fouling to slow Ozaukee.
The Warriors shot 40 free throws in the game, but connected on only half of them.
“It was really physical. We shot a lot of free throws, and if we make a few, we blow the game open,” Domach said.
Hoffmann finished with 22 points, including going 11-for-16 at the line.
For the Warriors’ part, they sent the opponents to the line 25 times. Kohler made 16 of their attempts.
Twelve players in the game finished with at least three personal fouls.
Lippe scored 16 points for Ozaukee, and Zausch and Street each had nine.
Ben Maki led the Bombers with 18 points. Lucas Knuth and Sean Farrell each scored nine.
The Warriors outrebounded Kohler, 51-31. Street had 14 rebounds, and Hoffmann added 10.
Kohler finished the season 16-8.
Image Information: GUARD GARRETT HOFFMANN helped fuel the Ozaukee boys’ comeback win over Oshkosh Lourdes in a WIAA Division 4 regional final by scoring a game-high 26 points. Photo by Sam Arendt