Kenosha St. Joseph Catholic junior guard Eric Kenesie became the first player in WIAA boys basketball state tournament history — covering 107 years — to break the 50-point barrier in a single game.
The 6-foot Kenesie scored a WIAA all-division record 51 points in leading the fourth-seeded Lancers to a come-from-behind 83-72 victory over top-seeded Neenah St. Mary Catholic in a WIAA Division 4 semifinal Thursday night.
“It means a lot to me, having that record,” said Kenesie, whose previous high was 42 in last Saturday’s sectional final against Kohler. “But what really hits me is us going on to play another game here at the Kohl Center, playing for a chance to win the state championship. If we lost that game, the 50 points, it doesn’t matter. The outcome of the game is what matters.”
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The WIAA Division 4 individual scoring record had been 42 points scored in two games by Wausaukee’s Anthony Pieper in 1993. The all-division and Division 2 record had been 46 points by Cedarburg’s John Diener in 2017.
“We were down a little bit to start,” Kenesie said. “We had to get going. After I hit that first 3, it got me going a little bit. Then we started turning it up on the defensive end, which was good for us. We needed that. … The confidence that I had was good, but my teammates trusted me and my coaches trusted me and that’s what really gave me the confidence to keep going on.”
Kenesie scored 29 points in the second half as the Lancers (19-10) outscored the Zephyrs (26-3) by a 53-35 margin.
“We just couldn’t control Kenesie,” St. Mary Catholic coach Paul Bradshaw said. “He was phenomenal.”
Kenesie wound up 15-for-21 from the field, including making five 3-point shots. He made 16 of 19 free throws and had eight assists, four steals and two turnovers. Kenesie was 7-for-10 from the floor, including making four 3-pointers, and scored 22 first-half points for Kenosha St. Joseph.
“We knew we had to space the floor and give him opportunities to penetrate and dish off,” Kenosha St. Joseph coach Jose Garcia said. “And it started to work, so we stuck with it. … We trust him to make the right choice.”
Kenesie’s mother, Jenny (Knight) Kenesie is the school’s athletic director who is an assistant coach for the boys basketball team. She played college basketball at Louisville.
Garcia and assistant Kyle Clark played and started for the school when the Lancers made their most recent appearance at state in 2003.
Junior guard Eric Kenesie’s grandfather, Raymond Knight, was the coach of the Lancers’ team 20 years ago.
Senior forward Peter Stapleton added 18 points for Kenosha St. Joseph on Thursday.
Senior guard Daniel Griffith led St. Mary Catholic with 24 points, while senior forward Charlie Nackers added 17.
Griffith had 14 points and Fairweather added 11 as the Zephyrs shot 56% from the field in the first half and took a 37-27 halftime lead.
Four of the current St. Joseph team’s players are cousins, according to information from the school — Kenesie, senior guard Jack McTernan, junior guard/forward Tommy Santarelli and freshman forward Dominic Santarelli.
Kenosha St. Joseph will meet Onalaska Luther in Saturday’s title game in Division 4.
In this Series
It took 107 years for 2 rare feats at WIAA state boys basketball tournament. Here's how it unfolded
WIAA state tournament scoring record falls with performance unlike any in 107-year history
De Pere boys basketball's perfect run makes state history in 107 years
Kenosha St. Joseph celebrates victory, Eric Kenesie’s record performance
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