By: Brian Burkhart Prep Reporter Twitter: @BrianESPN
It was a bad ending to a great story by this senior lead East Troy team. The Trojans finally found an opponent that could compete with them size wise in the post and it was a rude awakening for them. An epic comeback that saw East Troy once down by thirteen points fell just short, as Lodi outlasted the Trojans, with a 54-46 victory. Lodi will advance to the Division 3 Championship game tomorrow afternoon against Aquinas and Wisconsin Badger commit, Bronson Koenig.
The preview for this matchup was one that you could not all but love if you’re a basketball fan. East Troy coming into the game dominating every opponent they had faced, and Lodi who only lost one game in conference. This isn’t the first time these two teams have faced one another though. East Troy had revenge on their mind, as Lodi upset the Trojans last year on a buzzer beater three from Jordan Shea to give them their first state birth.
East Troy looked like they were going to come out of the gates strong from the opening tip as Nate Dodge scored all six of the Trojans first points. Soon after that the Lodi defense settled in and doubled both Prahl brothers as soon as they touched the ball down low. The Trojans seemed to be getting away from their usual game in the first quarter, not posting up either Brett or Alex Prahl and playing a more outside game. This didn’t work well for East Troy as Nate Dodge couldn’t get a basket to fall from the outside the arc, while seeing Lodi run out to a 18-6 lead to end the first quarter. Lodi’s Brady Moses was a sharp shooter from outside in the first hitting back-to-back three pointers with hands in his face.
In the second quarter East Troy started to make a dent into the Lodi lead, but it wasn’t any easy task as the basket was still closed shut on the Trojans. The Trojans looked as if they were playing timid at points during the second quarter and Lodi capitalized on those opportunities. Jordan Shea of Lodi got penetration in the lane against Alex Prahl, finishing the first half with 12 points on 6-10 shooting. The Prahl brothers only took a combined five shots in the first half, throwing East Troy off of their game. A few sloppy turnovers by the Trojans cost them some easy baskets before halftime, but Coach Rayfield of East Troy felt good about his team only down 27-20 going into the half. “I thought that we fought back as a team in the second quarter, and I told my team at half, Lodi is a really good team but East Troy is a really good team too,” said Rayfield. Nate Dodge who usually makes a living from beyond the arc was only 1-4 in the first half. East Troy shot an abysmal 41% from the field in the first half, with Lodi shooting 52%.
Coming out of the half East Troy was a totally different team; the third quarter got the Trojans back to playing their style of basketball. The recognized that Lodi was doubling their bigs down low, so they sent cutters into the lane freeing up the Prahl brothers. The first three possessions by the Trojans were all scored from the low block my Alex Prahl. Moses of Lodi countered East Troy’s run by hitting a pair of dagger threes from the right wing. The momentum shifted to East Troy at the 4:38 mark in the third when Alex Prahl took a baseline pass from Nate Dodge and stuffed it, while getting fouled. The made free throw by Alex, shrinked Lodi’s lead to just three, 38-35 to end the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a memorable one for the fans in attendance at the Kohl Center. It saw a dog fight between two teams that would not give up. Lodi’s Kris Seffrood made his mark in the game scoring the teams first seven points to start the fourth. Each team went back in forth for most of the fourth until the 3:55 mark when Brett Prahl threw down a monstrous dunk in the lane and made good on the foul shot, tying the game at 44 a piece. An East Troy team that was once down by 13 in the game, comes back to tie it up with just over three minutes to play. With 38 seconds left in the game, and East Troy down by two, Will Iloncale steals the inbound pass from Jordan Shea for the easy layup tying the game again. The pivotal moment in the game was an inbound play by East Troy with only 26 seconds left. Alex Prahl inbounded the in the low block and was immediately called for a traveling violation, all but seeing the game for Lodi with only a few seconds remaining. The final, 54-46 with Lodi advancing to the championship.
After the game Head Coach Mitch Hauser thought this team executed the game plan well, “Our goal when we played East Troy last year was to stop the outside shot, this year we had to defend down low and I think we did a great job against there big guys.” When asked about the controversial late game travel call on his player, Coach Rayfield respected the officials call, “He did what a good official does, he was firm on the call and stood by what he saw, its hard to call if Alex had possession of the ball or not.” East Troy senior Nate Dodge will be playing at the University of Army next year, while Alex and Brett Prahl will play at UW-Milwaukee.
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