Madison – This was a truly fitting finish for Whitefish Bay Dominican.
The Knights boys basketball team didn’t just win their first state title since 2005 with a 61-43 victory over Cuba City in the Division 4 state championship game Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center, they did it with Duane Wilson and Jamall Taylor leading the way.
The backcourt tandem has provided a nearly unstoppable 1-2 punch for the team all season. Against Cuba City it was more of the same.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3 junior, had 24 points, four assists and four steals. He made 9 of 13 shots, including 5 of 8 from three-point range.
Taylor, a 6-3 senior, had 18 points, five assists and seven rebounds. He made 7 of 14 shots, including 3 of 6 from three-point range.
“It couldn’t have been more fitting to have two guys who have led us all season long, really for the last couple of years, to have big games and offensively to carry the team to a some degree,” Whitefish Bay Dominican coach Paul Wollersheim said. “To have these guys sitting right here next to me is a great feeling.”
Wilson and Taylor spearheaded a lights-out shooting day that undermined Cuba City’s vaunted 1-3-1 zone and allowed the Knights to finish 27-1 with a 25-game winning streak.
They shot 51.1% (24 of 47) in the final and were 10 for 22 (45.5%) from three-point range. Eight-for-12 shooting beyond the arc in the first half set the pace.
On the other end, Cuba City (27-1) was held to 28.1% shooting and about 30 points below its season average.
“I thought our defense was stifling,” Wollersheim said. “I thought we had one of our best defensive efforts of the season tonight.”
The tone for the day was set during the first 4 minutes when Dominican hit 3 threes to take a 9-0 lead.
“Getting that 9-0 lead, I think took a little of the wind out of the sails of Cuba City,” Wollersheim said. “If Cuba gets the lead on us or stays even with us, they just keep gaining confidence as the game goes on.”
The start helped Dominican overcome a first quarter that wasn’t pretty. As the team tried solving Cuba City’s zone, it turned the ball over 10 times. Wilson had seven turnovers during that stretch, four on traveling violations.
In the second quarter, however, Wilson showed why he is one of the state’s top players.
He scored Dominican’s first 12 points of the quarter, starting the spurt with a three-point play off a drive in transition to make it 15-9 and then hitting three-pointers the next three trips down the floor. His final basket of the run gave his team a 24-12 lead with 5 minutes left in the quarter.
And in the bigger picture, Dominican scored three points on five straight possessions to take 27-17 lead with 4 minutes 2 seconds to play.
“The game plan was to try to drive and attack and kick it to the shooters and not try to do cross-court passes,” Wilson said. “We basically wanted to be poised. In practice we did a lot of one versus two practice, being patient with the ball and just driving. And luckily we had a good shooting night tonight.”
The Knights led, 34-24, at the half, leaving Cuba City coach Jerry Petitgoue to read the stat sheet and shake his head.
“They had (13) turnovers in the first half. We had (11) more shots than them, and we’re down by 10,” Petitgoue said. “That’s a really good basketball team. The Wilson kid. The Taylor kid. Whoa.”
A 13-0 run that started midway through the third quarter all but sealed the victory.
Diamond Stone had a dunk during the run followed by a layup in transition on a play he started with a block. Taylor had five points during that stretch, including a three. Wilson got the assist on Stone’s dunk and punctuated the run with a pull-up jumper that made it 54-28 with 1:35 left in the third.
The Knights were about a quarter from their third WIAA state title. They also won in 2004 and ’05.
“I can’t believe I’m even sitting here right now,” Taylor said. “Everything I’ve been working for my last four years and to go out like this, with a state championship, it can’t get any better for me.”