Sports

Lutheran beats Hustisford to inch closer to state

Next up for the Crusaders is Randolph Saturday with tourney berth on the line

Jacob Ognacevic passes the 1,000-point mark for a season Thursday in Waupun. – photo by Jenni Pickel

No one knows where it is going to be held, but the Sheboygan Lutheran boys basketball team needs one more win to return to the state tournament.

The top-seeded Crusaders just defeated third-seeded Hustisford, 83-73, in a Division 5 sectional semifinal in Waupun.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association restricted the number of people in attendance because of the Coronavirus, and then announced earlier today the Kohl Center in Madison will not host the state tournament like it usually does.

The WIAA says it will release more information as to where those games will be held.

To get to state, where ever it is, the Crusaders have to beat second-seeded Randolph in a sectional final Saturday in Fond du Lac.

Lutheran senior and Valparaiso recruit Jacob Ognacevic not only scored 32 points and grabbed 17 rebounds against Hustisford, he passed the 1,000-point total on the season.

“Unbelievable, huh?” Crusader’s coach Nick Verhagen said. “It’s absolutely staggering that he’s the third player in Wisconsin basketball history to score 1,000 points in a season. I mean, you just keep going back to how hard he works, and how many shots and reps he puts up, and how he’s grown physically and mentally in the last three years. His dedication to his craft is staggering. … I’m so excited to coach him for another practice and another game.”

Casey Verhagen added 13 points and 15 rebounds, Jonah Jurss was credited for his defense, and role players like Robby Michael (21 points) and Jackson Holzheimer stepping up were also keys to the game, according to their coach.

Too bad only 88 Lutheran fans were able to see it because of the restriction.

Each player got six tickets to distribute, and coaches also gave them to students, alumni and other family members.

The game was originally scheduled for Oshkosh West, but school officials there did not want any fans to attend because of the virus.

So both teams searched for a better place to play.

“We weren’t able to get as many students there as we would have liked, but there was a lot of family there,” Verhagen said, “So it was pretty special. It was an intimate, small gym, so it was really loud still. It was a cool atmosphere.

“It would have been different if we had played at Oshkosh West or something like that because it wouldn’t have been as intimate. But this gym was really small. There were no bleachers behind our bench. Across from us were our fans and across from the other team were their fans.”

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