MADISON – Logan Bahr is always a significant piece of the Onalaska Luther High School boys basketball team’s plan.
The typical plan didn’t have to shift on Saturday, but it made sense to change things up a bit for a WIAA Division 4 state championship game against Kenosha St. Joseph.
The Lancers have one player who stands 6-foot-6, but he isn’t part of the rotation. That left Kenosha St. Joe’s tallest player as 6-3 Lowell Werlinger.
Bahr, at 6-7, made nearly half of his shots from behind the 3-point line this season, but there was an opportunity to explore, and the Knights explored it.
Bahr still got his shots from the perimeter – he made four 3-pointers – but his inside presence was essential in a team performance that made top-seeded Luther a state champion for the first time.
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Bahr scored 28 points, but he also altered shots, tipped away rebounds and pulled them down in a 60-46 victory over the fourth-seeded Lancers at the Kohl Center. He was a factor both offensively and defensively in the post for the biggest game in program history.
And as he walked off the court with 36.1 seconds remaining and a mission accomplished, Bahr motioned for a very willing student section to acknowledge the first-time accomplishment by raising his arms and waving it into action.
“This means everything for us,” Bahr said of the championship, which put the finishing touch on a 28-2 season. “Especially doing it in coach (Brad) Schaper’s last year.
“Sending him off like that? That’s everything.”
There were a number of things to credit for the victory, which was the Knights’ seventh in a row and made them winners in the first state championship game in program history.
Isaiah Schwichtenberg’s defense would probably be the biggest story coming out of this game – and still could be – but Bahr finishing off a big weekend was a sight to see.
“Early on, they played, mainly man (defense),” said Schaper, whose 16-year career as the team’s coach resulted in a 221-147 record. “That allowed him to get position, and he was effective there.
“When they went to the 1-3-1 (zone), we used the high post to our advantage and had the opportunity for Logan to shoot the ball from the wings, so his inside opened up his outside today.”
Bahr made 9 of 15 shots, connected on 4 of 8 3-point attempts and hit all six of his free throws after drawing eight fouls. He finished with seven rebounds, got his hand on a couple of St. Joseph shots in the paint and was just too much for the Lancers (19-11) to handle.
Bahr had 44 points on 14-for-26 shooting and 14 rebounds during Luther’s two state games. He had 16 points and seven rebounds when the Knights beat Whitehall 79-51 on Thursday.
The shift in focus was welcomed by Bahr, who had a couple of strong finishes for three-point plays in the first half. The second one gave Luther a 23-22 lead with 5 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half, and it never again relinquished the lead.
“We had the height advantage, so we had to work the post game,” Bahr said. “I just told myself to stay calm, play my game and let my teammates get me the ball. I just tried to do my thing.”
He made all four of his 3-pointers in the second half and made most of them under at least some pressure. Bahr knocked down a good look for a 33-26 lead with 14:48 on the clock before firing on attempts over defenders the rest of the way.
Two of those shots came over the outstretched arm of Dominic Santorelli and the other over Jamire Davis. The last of those made the score 48-39 with 5:17 to go.
“Once he got hot, you know he’s going to keep shooting,” Schaper said of Bahr. “He wanted this so badly, not just today but every game leading us here.
“If you would have seen him before our Cuba City game (a regional final at Luther), I’ve never seen a kid that jacked, and all he wanted to do was be successful for his teammates and finish this thing off. He did a great job.”
Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX