Practice makes perfect

Practice paid off for the Superior High School boys basketball team in its 53-45 win over Chippewa Falls in a WIAA regional championship game Saturday afternoon in the SHS gym.

Superior's Josh Kimmes (45) drives past Chippewa Falls' Zandy Stowell (4) in front of a packed SHS gym on Saturday afternoon. (Jed Carlson/

Practice paid off for the Superior High School boys basketball team in its 53-45 win over Chippewa Falls in a WIAA regional championship game Saturday afternoon in the SHS gym.

Leading 34-26 after three quarters, the Spartans shot just 1-of-7 from the field in the fourth while the Cardinals were nailing four 3-pointers to keep the game in doubt until the final buzzer.

That's where practice came in as Superior made 17-of-23 free-throw attempts to offset Chippewa Falls' shooting and advance to this week's sectional tournament at D.C. Everest in Schofield.

"To win you have to knock down the free throws," said Superior's Rob Kraft, who was 9-of-10 from the line himself in the fourth quarter. "We practice them every day and today it paid off."

For the game Superior was 21-of-27 (78 percent) from the charity line.


"We shoot 78 to 80 percent from the line so I'll take 21-of-27 any time," SHS coach Dave Kontny said. "Give Chippewa Falls credit, they played well and were prepared. They made some big shots when they had to. If they don't make those 3's, we win by 18.

Superior's Joel Lindberg led all scorers with 19 points. Kraft added 14 points, all in the second half; Ethan Anderson and Darcell Williams chipped in with six points apiece; Josh Kimmes had five points; Cody Hunt two; and Dustin Hobson one.

Cal Melberg led the Cardinals with 11 points. Tyson Kalien and Justin Jaquish were next with nine apiece, C.D. Wright had five, Shane Woodley four, and Zandy Stowell three.

Superior led the entire first quarter, including by as many as four points twice. Baskets by Woodley and Wright gave the Cardinals a 9-8 lead after the first eight minutes.

"We came out tight, you could see that with the way we were shooting the ball early," Kontny said. "But anytime you can hold a team to 45 points, that's always our goal, you should win the game."

The second quarter was just as close as the first with seven lead changes and ties at 14-14 and 16-16.

"We had some jitters at the beginning," Lindberg said. "But we kept our composure and got better as the game went on."

A Wright 3-pointer gave the Cardinals a 19-18 lead with 1:25 left in the second quarter, but the Spartans ended the half with a Williams' fast-break layup on an assist from Kraft, and two Lindberg free throws for a 22-19 lead at the intermission.


"We couldn't get in to any flow," Kontny said. "We had a layup taken away from us for a travel and we had two or three balls go through our legs and then they scored. So we had a couple of chances to make runs and get it up to seven or eight points, but we just couldn't get on track."

Superior's best quarter of the game was third when they outscore Chippewa Falls 12-7 and opened up a 34-26 lead.

"We just wanted to get back to playing our style and everything started to fall together," Lindberg said.

The Spartans led by as many 11 points twice in the third quarter thanks to a full-court press and Kraft's five points, his first points of the game.

"I finally found the range (in the third quarter)," Kraft said. "I was shooting well in warm-ups, but then I just went cold in the game. When it came to the third quarter, I got one to fall and I got a little confident. Then I got another to fall and I just made my free throws at the end."

"I told him (Kraft) good players keep shooting," Kontny said. "Even though we struggled early, we just wanted to take good shots and make good decisions. Then he got on in a flow and that helped."

The Spartans now plays Marshfield, a 70-40 winner over Eau Claire Memorial, in one sectional semifinal at 8 p.m. Thursday at DCE. The other semifinal has the host Evergreens vs. La Crosse Central.

The sectional championship game is at 7 p.m. Saturday.


"Marshfield is good, big and they beat us earlier in the season so we know we have a lot of work to do to get ready for them," Lindberg said. "But we're excited to know we have another chance at them."

SPARTAN SPIN: Tickets for Thursday's game will be on sale from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the SHS treasurer's office. Tickets are $4. ... Former UW-Superior Yellowjacket Jason Proue is an assistant coach with Chippewa Falls. ... The Cardinals were 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. ... The Spartans played without Nathaniel Knutson (knee). He is expected to be ready for Thursday's game. ... SHS shot 27 percent from the floor in the first quarter, 55 percent in the second, 50 percent in the third and 14 percent in the fourth.

Chippewa Falls 9 10 7 19 -- 45

Superior 8 14 12 19 -- 53

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