Andrew Wedwick drilled a three-point shot with time running out, lifting the Viroqua boys basketball team to a thrilling, heart-stopping, come-from-behind victory over the Westby Norsemen, Friday, Jan. 5, in a Coulee Conference game played at the Westby Fieldhouse. It was the first victory for the Blackhawks this season and the first win over their rivals since February 2011, ending a 14-game losing streak to the Norse.
Trailing 53-51, Wedwick drained the game-winner from the top-of-the-key, with just 1.3 seconds left on the game clock, lifting the Blackhawks to the 54-53 victory. The clutch shot was just one of several for the VHS junior and was the culmination of a game-long series of comebacks throughout the game by the visitors.
After Wedwick opened the game with a three-point basket, the Norse went on a 13-0 run led by eight consecutive points from Alex Gluch and held a 23-5 lead with 6:46 left in the first half. Eight straight points by Sam Jett, on a pair of three’s and a two-point field goal, and four consecutive points from Jared Anderson pulled the Blackhawks back to within eight points at 25-17 with 2:27 left before intermission. But the Norse closed out the half on a 5-0 run, on a three-pointer by Sam Strangstalien and a two-point basket by Joe Armbruster, to grab a 30-17 lead at intermission.
Strangstalien opened the second half with a bucket opening a 15-point lead at 32-17, before the Hawks launched their comeback run.
Jett, with 10 first-half points, continued his hot shooting, connecting on a three-pointer from the deep left corner. Following a bucket by the Norse, the visitors went on an 11-point spurt to pull within four points at 37-34 midway through the second half. The run featured a reverse layup by Wedwick, a deep-corner three by Anthony Rappl and six straight by senior forward Steve Diehl. Diehl’s first two baskets were set up off assists from Rappl and the last an offensive rebound put-back.
The Norse built their lead back to eight points, at 47-39 on a pair of two-pointers by Gluch and three-pointers by Hunter Ward and Strangstalien. The two teams traded baskets and the Norsemen still held an eight-point margin at 50-42, with just 1:30 left in the game.
Anderson, a VHS sophomore, ignited the final comeback run hitting a three-pointer with 1:13 remaining, cutting the lead to 50-45. Following a free throw by Armbruster, Anderson converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 47 second left and the Hawks had crawled back to trail 51-48.
In the final minute, the Norsemen converted just two of their final five free-throw attempts and with the lead at 53-48 with 10.3 seconds remaining, left the door open for the late game rally by the Blackhawks. And Wedwick made them pay, connecting on a pair of three-pointers, each from the top-of-the-key. The first with 8.3 seconds remaining, setting the stage for the game-winner.
Wedwick led the Hawks offense with 16 points, 13 of which came in the second half, including a trio of three-pointers in the final three minutes of the game. Jett was next with 15, including four from three-point range. Anderson finished with 10, Diehl 8 and Rappl chipped in with 5.
Gluch with 14, Strangstalien with 13 and Griffin Grass with nine led the Norse.
“I am very happy for the players…this was a good win against our rival team that is always well coached,” said coach Joel Anderson. “Fun to see our players show a great deal of mental toughness and resiliency to battle back in the second half, a little at a time. We need to keep working to improve as we move forward.”
Viroqua vs. Mauston, Jan. 2
Earlier in the week the Blackhawks found a way to hold down Mauston’s high-scoring duo of Cade Hall and Joe Bauer, but came up short offensively, in a 56-34 loss to the Golden Eagles in a non-conference game played at the VHS gymnasium.
Bauer (18.0) and Hall (17.2) were the third- and fourth-leading scorers in the South-Central Conference entering the game. The Blackhawks defense held the duo, Hall 16 and Bauer 10, to a total of just 26 points, ten below their combined average, but it still wasn’t enough as the Golden Eagles improved to 5-5 on the year.
The visitors (2-1 South Central) also put the defensive clamps on two of Viroqua’s top scorers, limiting Rappl to just seven points and Wedwick a season low four. Jett was the only Blackhawk in double figures with 11, Ben Tunks added six, Diehl four and Anderson two.
Viroqua hosted Onalaska Luther Jan. 11 and will travel to North Crawford Jan. 15 and West Salem Jan. 23.