The Lightning boys basketball team can call themselves regional champions again this year, following a successful weekend with big wins over Luther Prep and Kewaskum to earn the title. The convincing scores of the two regional game victories just go to show the intensity and determination LCL is playing with after coming up just short of the state title last year. With their foot on the gas, and eye on the prize, the Lightning are continuing their playoff run on to sectionals after winning out the weekend.
It all started on Friday night, an action and energy-packed game against rival Luther Prep. Bleachers were stuffed with excited fans and the pep band to encourage the basketball team, which paired nicely with the 84-45 Lightning win over the Phoenixes. LCL opened the game on a 5-0 run and never looked back after that. Scores by Ben Lubbers, Noah Howard, and Luke Haertle to name a few put the boys up 55-24 at halftime, and Ty Schneider’s bench energy and three-point effectiveness sealed the victory for the Lightning.
Beating Luther Prep in the first round of regionals meant another contest before heading on to sectionals, so Kewaskum it was on Saturday night. While the Indians, at 17-10, had surely proven themselves throughout the course of their season, they struggled against the red-hot Lightning team. Haertle put up a 31-point game, assisted by 15 and 11 points coming from Lubbers and Howard, respectively. LCL ended up taking the convincing regional final win over Kewaskum, 78-49, etching another writing the the Lightning history books and filling another spot on a banner.
The journey continues on Wednesday at Markesan High School, where the #1 seed LCL will take on #3 Laconia. This third-ranked team has defeated Omro and North Fond du Lac in their playoff run. The Lightning are hungry to continue their winning streak, looking to head to Richland Center on Saturday for the sectional championship and seal their fate for state by the end of this week.
Post-Luther Prep Playoff Interview With Coach Newman
Mia: What a win tonight. So, what do you think, both this year overall and in this game specifically, has been clicking for the team to produce such consistent success?
Newman: We’re really good on defense. Scoring always gets all the attention, but if your defense is really good it always works and you never have an off night. So, we’re good on defense because Luther Prep is a really good team, and they just had a hard time scoring. Our great defense leads to these runouts, so we’ll get easy buckets and it puts a lot of pressure on people. The best thing about this team is easily our defense.
Mia: What’s preparation like tonight and tomorrow going into your next game?
Newman: It’s always interesting, because when you play regionals you have a game earlier or a bye like we did, and then you play on Friday. You don’t know who you’re playing on Saturday, because they’re playing right now, too. We know we’ll play either Kewaskum or Ripon, so I’ll go home and see who won the game, and then we’ve got to watch game tape. We’ve watched games of both of those teams, but the turnaround is quick. This week we’ve actually been doing some stuff for both teams, which we don’t necessarily say, but we worked on a 3-2 zone offense that we’ll use. But, [Luther] Prep doesn’t run that, Kewaskum does. So if we get Kewaskum and they run the 3-2, we’ve already been working on it a little bit. Tomorrow we come in at 10am and shoot for a half hour, and just walk through the stuff we want to do. It always feels scary because we haven’t had any time to prepare for them, but they haven’t had any time to prepare, either. So it’s always a reminder of that.
Mia: Thinking a little forwardly here, but after falling just short of the state championship last year, what do you think it would mean to this team, especially this year’s group of seniors, to finally earn a state chip for the school?
Newman: I always say to them, the team exists for them and not for me. I’m a huge believer in that- the idea that players win games, not coaches. Coaches love to take credit, but you can’t win if you don’t have good players. We have these six seniors, who are studs, and the underclassmen who are really good, too. For me, the reason I would love to get back to state is because I really love being with these guys and it’s three extra weeks. For me, that would be great. I think for the boys, though, they have gone through so much together. Basketball is a five-month season, not like football that’s two and a half months. It’s five months of 3-5 days a week going late, because you either practice late or play late. It’s exhausting, and through tons of ups and downs it would be an awesome way to cap it off. I’m also a little hesitant to make that “the thing,” because there’s so much great stuff that comes out of any season. I never want them to feel like it’s state championship or bust. It’s really hard to win a state championship, especially in hoops, because there are so many good teams that are available. So, we would love to do it, and I think they’re good enough to do it, but every game moving forward is hard to get through.