MADISON — One thing the Waupun prep boys basketball does well is not let its opponents play to their strengths.
In Thursday’s WIAA Division 3 state semifinal game against Denmark, the Warriors had two big Vikings — Zane Short at 6-foot-5 and Patrick Suemnick at 6-9 — to worry about in the paint.
But instead of using 6-6 senior Marcus Domask on either of them, the Warriors used 6-5 senior Reece Homan and 6-4 senior Quintin Winterfeldt, which allowed Domask to provide help.
And the game plan worked like a charm, because the second-seeded Warriors held the third-seeded Vikings well below their scoring average en route to a 60-43 victory at the Kohl Center to advance to Saturday’s state championship game against No. 1 seed Greendale Martin Luther.
“We knew that to limit their chances, we had to keep them off the glass because that’s their advantage,” Domask said. “We tried to take away their strengths.”
The Warriors (26-1) won the rebounding battle 40-25 and while the turnover battle was even at 10 apiece, Waupun had a greater edge on the scoreboard with 13 points off turnovers to Denmark’s eight.
A big reason why Waupun was able to limit Denmark to 43 points, which is almost 22 below its season average of 64.8, was that the Warriors didn’t let the Vikings get comfortable in their halfcourt offense — forcing them to begin their sets farther from the basket than they wanted.
That led to longer passes and more Waupun hands on the ball.
“That’s big piece at what they do,” Denmark coach Cody Stelmach said. “They’re very good at getting deflections, getting out in transition and scoring. We knew that was going to be a big factor in this game — we had to take care of the ball. They do a good job of really pushing our offense out, and pushing other teams out as well. So, you’re offense is starting way out (between the 3-point line and halfcourt). That makes it difficult to get those post-entrance feeds.”
Waupun coach Dan Domask thought his team had a chance to get more transition points, but failed on some occasions.
“We missed a few opportunities to complete plays, but that was a goal of ours today,” he said. “It was to try and put enough pressure (on) to rattle them into making some decisions that maybe they weren’t comfortable making.
“I thought our athleticism was enough to cause those problems.”
Marcus Domask led the Warriors with three steals and as a team, the Warriors forced Suemnick into six turnovers.
The Waupun defense simply never allowed Denmark’s offense to get into rhythm.
“I don’t know if frustrated is the right word for it, but I know we were trying to get our normal offensive flow going — we had our shooters shooting and our bigs trying to post up,” Short said. “(The ball is) not going to fall if it’s not going to fall.”
Waupun also limited Denmark to only five offensive rebounds, which meant the Vikings were virtually one and done all afternoon.
The other part of the problem for the Vikings was that they were cold shooting, finishing at 35.4 percent (17-of-48) — well off their season mark of 48.8 percent.
“That played a big role as well,” Stelmach said.