The Cardinals put up a good fight against one of the top Division 4 teams in the state, but it didn’t end up being enough to extend their season.
No. 1 seed Mineral Point (20-4), the sixth-ranked Division 4 team in Wisconsin, downed the eighth-seeded Cardinals (17-7) 64-52 in their regional semifinal matchup Friday, March 2 at Mineral Point High School.
Necedah hung with the Pointers throughout most of the first half, but Mineral Point went on a late run to hold a 32-20 lead at halftime. In the second half, the Cardinals were able to rally back and make it a one-possession game for a little while, but couldn’t ever tie things up or take the lead.
Eventually, the Pointers went on another run to regain some separation on their way to a double-digit margin of victory.
Sophomore guard Jaron Murphy led Necedah with 14 points, senior guard Miles Saylor scored 13 points, senior Noah Waltemath had 11 points, senior forward Kayden Yoss finished with seven points, senior forward Tyler Reichel added four points and senior guard Jerrod Foust chipped in three points. Sophomore guard Isaac Lindsey scored a game-high 24 points for Mineral Point, freshman guard Brayden Dailey finished with 16 points and junior guard Mason Dailey had 11 points.
For the Cardinals, the loss meant the end of their season and the end of the line for a prolific senior class.
This year’s Necedah team consisted of nine seniors: guards Miles Saylor, Noah Waltemath, Jerrod Foust, Colin Wesolek and Trenton Whipple and forwards Tyler Reichel, Kayden Yoss, Jared Stout and Everett Winters.
Saylor, a four-year starter, finishes his career as a Necedah Cardinal with a school-record 1,432 points and averaged 15.8 points per game this season to lead the team. However, the Cardinals were far from a one-man show.
In addition to Saylor, four other players who logged significant minutes averaged at least six points per game for Necedah this year: Murphy (13.4), Waltemath (8.6), Reichel (7.8) and Yoss (6.0). In total, the Cardinals will lose 72.5 percent of their scoring production when these seniors graduate.
Over the last four years, Necedah has posted a 63-30 record overall and a 40-16 mark in conference play, though head coach Kris Saylor’s time with these players extends well past their four years in high school and back to their time playing youth basketball. He points to moments like their overtime win against Nekoosa earlier this season and their dramatic regional win over Brookwood before a raucous home crowd just last week as some of the most memorable moments during this senior class’s run with the Cardinals.
Saylor lauded this group of seniors for their willingness to put in all the work necessary without needing to be constantly reminded to do so. According to him, the culture they helped foster around Necedah basketball will be their most lasting legacy.
They will unquestionably be a tough act to follow at Necedah and their contributions missed, but as Saylor pointed out “basketball existed before this senior class and basketball will exist after this senior class”.
There will be a whole host of fresh faces on the varsity roster next season looking to fill the production void left by the nine departing seniors. Jaron Murphy, junior guard Logan Williams and freshman guard Isaiah Herried will be the only returning varsity players.
Herried saw very limited action this year while Williams was a more regular member of Necedah’s rotation. However, Murphy, who already was a key component to the Cardinals’ success this season, undoubtedly will be the focal point when opposing coaches are game-planning for Necedah moving forward. Through his first two seasons with the Cardinals, Murphy has scored 519 points (11.0 points per game) and established himself as a consistent threat from 3-point range.
Saylor believes by the time the first ball is tipped late next fall, he’ll have a group of guys raring to go out and prove themselves. What Necedah will look like by the time next season rolls around remains uncertain, but this much is clear: the departing senior class’s legacy is secure and they’ll be leaving behind big shoes to fill.