Blake Getschel caught the pass and calmly drilled a jump shot near the top of the key to continue the swelling confidence of the New Richmond High School basketball team.
The Tigers were a No. 9 seed and given little chance of beating top-seeded Central in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal on Friday, but Getschel’s basket gave them a one-point lead with 9 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half at Mark Sutton Memorial Gymnasium.
The Red Raiders then decided that was enough.
Central scored the next 26 points and held New Richmond scoreless for the rest of the half before moving to the regional finals with a resounding 69-29 victory.
The Red Raiders (21-2) made 9 of 15 shots and took advantage of most of New Richmond’s 11 turnovers in the last 9:24 of the first half.
“I think things just kind of snowballed on them,” said Central coach Todd Fergot, whose team led 38-13 at the half. “We hit a couple of 3s, turned them over, and it just snowballed.”
The Red Raiders will host fifth-seeded River Falls (15-8) in a 7 p.m. regional final Saturday.
The Wildcats overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Tomah 59-52 on Friday and were led by Jaxon Knotek, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. He averages 20.4 points per game and has helped River Falls win seven games in a row.
To get to that game, Central pulled out a 1-3-1 zone that is had used very rarely this season and alternated Johnny Davis and Terrance Thompson at the top of it to rattle the Tigers (10-14).
“Terrance worked hard out there,” Central junior Noah Parcher said. “He’s super-long and was really active, which made things really hard on them.”
Davis scored a team-high 27 and grabbed five rebounds to go with two of Central’s 13 steals. He also threw down two dunks early — one on a drive through the lane that finished with a one-handed slam.
Thompson was particularly effective defensively, but he remained a force under the basket with three of Central’s 10 offensive rebounds. Two of those possessions ended with points and the other with an offensive goaltending call.
The Tigers made 10 of 32 shots and make 5 of their first 11. The lane closed after Getschel’s shot midway through the first half, and New Richmond didn’t make another shot inside the 3-point line until 5:35 remained in the game.
“I wanted to see us play good team defense,” Davis said. “We needed to be jumping to the ball to take away their flex screens, and we did that. We held them to (29) points, and that’s good.”
Jordan Davis added 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, and Thompson finished with nine points and a team-high six rebounds for the Red Raiders, who won their fifth straight regional game and will try to win their third straight regional title on Saturday.