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MADISON — Aside from duplicating the size and brute force of teammate Grant Manke, Bangor High School senior Trevor Jones can take many forms and shapes when trying to help the Bangor High School boys basketball team win a game.

He nearly did that on Friday before a kid named Tom Nystrom spoiled everything with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for Marshfield Columbus Catholic.

Jones can score, Jones can defend, and Jones can deliver in big moments. He did all three of things — and more — in the Cardinals heartbreaking 69-66 loss to the second-seeded Dons in a WIAA Division 5 state semifinal at the Kohl Center on Friday.

The disbelief Jones felt as he walked off the court with his hands on his head shouldn’t prevail over what the guard accomplished for 32 minutes on the state’s biggest stage, but it probably will — at least for a little while.

It was no secret that Bangor (25-2) built its success on Manke, a 6-foot-5 powerhouse who helped it win a state title last season and win 25 games this one. Manke, a junior, has been a double-double machine, and he reached that plateau again with 20 points and 13 rebounds on Friday.

But there were a lot of things Jones was able to do that kept the Cardinals in a game they trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half. The biggest was the tying shot he made with 5.8 seconds left, so let’s start there.

Jarred Mandel’s basket on a drive through the lane gave the Dons (26-2) a 66-64 lead with 28 seconds remaining and forced the Cardinals to make another big play. Jaymeson Freit, who tied the game at 64 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, missed a 3, but Jones was there for the rebound.

He missed the follow but grabbed another rebound before pushing the ball back up to the hoop from the crowded lane. It dropped through the net with 5.8 seconds left to force Marshfield Columbus to make a winning play or face overtime in a game being controlled by the Cardinals.

Nystrom did the former with his 3-pointer, but let’s stick with Jones.

“I was just trying to get our team back to Championship Saturday,” said Jones, who had 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. “I gave it my best effort, shortest guy on the court, and got the ball up there.

“It gave us an opportunity, but they got the shot at the end.”

The Cardinals didn’t lean on any one player to make their comeback, but it always seemed like Jones was part of the equation.

Manke was solid and reliable under the basket down the stretch. Freit, who had 12 points, made that tying 3-pointer with 48 seconds left. Hank Reader put the ball in the right spots, and Dylan Sprain forced a key turnover near midcourt.

But Jones was the one who seemed to keep everything flowing. He wasn’t perfect — no one is in any game — but he was fabulous while Manke spent the entire game with his hands full in the paint.

The Dons were going to make players not named Manke beat them Friday — it’s a good strategy — and Jones nearly allowed the Cardinals to do that. Even to the extent of helping his team offset a 15-point, 25-rebound performance by Bryce Fuerlinger.

Jones put a big crimp in his opponent’s gameplan by drawing a charge on Mandel for his fourth foul of the game with 7:25 remaining.

That sent the Dons’ top scorer to the bench for 2½ minutes. Bangor only cut three points from its deficit with him off the floor, but it eliminated an offensive weapon for Marshfield Columbus, which sputtered the rest of the way offensively — it scored only nine points — after Mandel picked up his fourth foul.

“I’m going to miss playing with that kid,” Manke said. “He has great defensive intensity, and when you need a big shot, he’ll take it and knock it down.”

Jones did that Friday, but Nystrom made sure that shot was the last big play he made.


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Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at todd.sommerfeldt@lee.net and on Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX.

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.