PARDEEVILLE — Senior Logan Zuhlke did just about everything for Pardeeville besides make the popcorn before the game, and he probably would have done that, too, if he was asked.
Zuhlke had a career-high 29 points and added six rebounds, three blocks and two assists, leading the second-seeded and host Bulldogs to a 68-56 victory over No. 3 Markesan in a WIAA Division 4 boys basketball regional championship game on Saturday night.
Pardeeville advances to play top-seeded and undefeated New Glarus — who advanced with a 76-73 win over Fond du Lac Saint Mary’s Springs — in the sectional semifinal on Thursday night in Oconomowoc.
Zuhlke was a force under the basket all night. He scored 15 of his team’s 25 points in the first half. His back-to-back buckets down low gave Pardeeville a 16-11 lead with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first half. He then added a bucket from the left block and a baseline jumper to give his team a 22-13 lead with 30 seconds left in the half.
Pardeeville head coach Chris Lindert said the plan was to get Zuhlke involved early.
“They had to put a smaller kid on him just because of other matchups with our other bigger kids,” Lindert said. “He was going to get a matchup with a smaller kid and we just didn’t think the smaller kid was going to be able to handle him inside.”
Zuhlke wasn’t expecting to have such a big night in the final game in his home gym.
“Maybe tonight was my night, or maybe it was something I ate tonight. I don’t know,” Zuhlke said.
While Zuhlke was wearing out the Hornets, Pardeeville leading scorer Nicholas Henke was held scoreless until the final seconds of the first half. Henke did finally get in the scoring column, knocking down a long 3-pointer just before the first-half buzzer, sending the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 25-15 lead.
Henke’s bucket seemed to not only spark the team, but Henke too, as he went on to finish with 15 points.
“It gives you some momentum and I think it made him feel better,” Lindert said of Henke’s buzzer-beater. “They really made it an emphasis to take Nicholas out of the game. But we got a lot of horses in the race and I think we got a lot of other guys that can score if they take one away.”
After Henke’s second 3-pointer early in the second half gave Pardeeville a 35-24 lead, the Hornets went on a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer from junior Shane Ryan, to get within four a 35-31 with 10:20 to go.
Pardeeville went to the hot hand to regain a double-digit lead, as a personal 6-0 run from Zuhlke gave the Bulldogs a 45-33 lead with 8:10 to play.
Markesan had another run in it when senior Drew Bernhagen, who led the Hornets with 23 points, made a 3-pointer and then two free throws to get his team within four again at 48-44 with 5:12 left.
Pardeeville led 55-46 when it used a four-point possession to swat the Hornets for good. Zuhlke made the first of two free throws to make it 56-46, but after missing the second, senior Duncan Fleiner grabbed the rebound and put it back in while getting fouled. He then made the free throw to make it a three-point play, giving the Bulldogs a 59-46 lead with 1:16 to go.
After Bernhagen made a 3-pointer to make it 59-49, Fleiner provided the exclamation point when he got past the Markesan defense on a full-court pass and went in for a dunk to make it 61-49 with 1:03 left. Fleiner, who finished with 13 points, wanted to slam the ball through the hoop with authority, but instead softly stuffed it through the hoop because twice this season he has received a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
“He’s a little gun-shy about going up and hanging on the rim,” Lindert said. “He’s been T’d up a couple times, so he just sort of put it in, which is all right.”
Fleiner, who added eight rebounds and three blocks to his stat line, said it was a battle under the basket.
“It was very physical the whole game,” Fleiner said. “We had to push through it. We just kept playing and it turned out good.”
Markesan kept fighting, getting another 3-pointer from Bernhagen to make it 63-55 with 40 seconds to go, but Pardeeville was too good from the free throw line, where it made seven of eight in the final minute to put the game away.
PARDEEVILLE 68, MARKESAN 56
Markesan 15 41 — 56
Pardeeville 25 43 — 68
MARKESAN — Bernhagen 7 6-6 23, Clark 2 3-3 7, Triggs 6 2-2 15, Paddock 1 1-2 3, Stellmacher 1 0-0 2, Paddock 0, Ryan 2 0-0 5, Triggs 0 1-2 0. Totals 19 13-17 56.
PARDEEVILLE — Kamrath 1 2-3 4, Pargman 1 0-0 2, Henke 3 7-10 15, Cerro 2 0-0 5, Fleiner 5 3-5 13, Zuhlke 12 4-7 29. Totals 24 16-25 68.
3-point goals — M 5 (Bernhagen 3, Triggs 1, Ryan 1), P 4 (Henke 2, Cerro 1, Zuhlke 1). Total fouls — M 20, P 14.