It was only fitting that Tomah’s only senior delivered his finest hour on Senior Night.
Mason Gerke scored eight points during a decisive 17-8 run that rallied Tomah past Sparta 61-59 in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball game at Tomah High School.
It was the third straight victory for a young team that has gained resiliency and confidence during the past month.
“Our kids, they just keep fighting back,” Tomah coach Brad Plueger said. “They don’t get down on themselves. They truly believe in what we do. I’m so proud of them.”
Tomah trailed by 13 points early in the second half and still faced a 48-40 deficit with 9:17 left before Gerke stepped up.
Gerke made two foul shots to cut the lead to 48-42 and then converted three baseline drives, the last of which put Tomah ahead 57-53 with 3:49 left.
“They were really gutsy drives to the basket,” Plueger said. “That was an impressive and gutty performance from a senior.”
Tomah stretched the lead to 60-53 with 1:35 left before 3-pointers from Juan Aguilar and Nick Church sliced the gap to 60-59 with 12 seconds remaining.
Charlie Ella made one of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left to push the margin back to two points. Church took the ensuing inbounds pass, dribbled to the 3-point line and faked a Tomah defender into the air to clear space for a wide-open 3-point shot. However, the shot hit off the back rim, and the victory was Tomah’s.
The Timberwolves were hot from the perimeter early in the contest. Tyler Torkelson drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to give Tomah a 14-7 lead, and another 3-pointer from Carson Lindauer put Tomah ahead 20-14.
Sparta owned the next 11 ½ minutes, outscoring the Timberwolves 30-11 during that span. Raymond Brown capped the rally with two foul shots that gave the Spartans a 44-31 advantage with 12:49 left in the second half. Torkelson stopped the bleeding by rebounding his own miss and converting a layup followed by three foul shots from Lindauer and a 3-pointer by Ella that made the game competitive again.
“We kept attacking and got to score some points when the clock was stopped, and that really helped our run,” Plueger said.
Kade Gnewikow led Tomah’s offense with 16 points. He was eight of 11 from the foul line and led the Timberwolves in assists with four.
Torkelson had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Gerke finished with 11 points on four-of-five shooting from the field. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Isaiah Nick played all 36 minutes and was Tomah’s leading rebounder with 10.
Aguilar led the Spartans with 19 points. Church added 15.
The Timberwolves’ next three games are on the road, starting with Tuesday’s MVC contest at Holmen. Tipoff is 5:45 p.m. and is the first half of a boys/girls varsity doubleheader.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at email@example.com.
TOMAH 61 SPARTA 59
Sparta—Guns 4, Aguilar 19, Church 15, Brown 10, Raymer 5, Edwards 4, Sanchez 2.
Tomah—Gnewikow 16, Lindauer 6, Torkelson 11, Derousseau 3, M. Gerke 11, Nick 8, Ella 6.
Three-point goals—Aguilar 4, Church 3, Gnewikow 2, Lindauer, Torkelson, Derousseau, M. Gerke, Ella.