February 25, 2014 | 03:49 PMWith 20 seconds left on the clock Badger head coach Darin Lottig shouted from the sideline, "No shots! No shots!"
The Badgers relaxed their shoulders and passed the ball around. Jake Berhorst dribbled in place while the clock wound down.
Wilmot, 17-5 (11-3 SLC), was down by 15 points and gave up nearly half a minute before the buzzer sounded on Thursday night. Badger, 11-11 (6-8 SLC) won 63-48.
It was a thorough victory on both ends of the court, and Badger's second win in three days. Wilmot didn't put up much of a fight at the end of the game.
"This late in the season (it) is concerning to be doing that," Wilmot head coach Jake Erbentraut said of his team. "We have been building momentum to hopefully peak at season's end."
But on Thursday night, Badger brought the momentum and left in peak form. On Feb. 18, Badger defeated Elkhorn 57-49 after dropping four straight to Burlington, Sussex Hamilton and Union Grove (played twice).
With the playoffs approaching, the team brought renewed enthusiasm to Wilmot.
The key to victory was, "a combination of our patience in breaking their pressure and our ability to turn them away after most of their missed shots," Lottig said.
Lottig estimated that Wilmot only scored 4 points off of offensive rebounds.
"That coupled with the fact that we didn't shoot the ball well, that hurt our cause," Erbentraut said.
Thursday was Badger's final regular season game and their play on Thursday night matched the enthusiasm of their tweets that morning.
"GAME DAY!!! Last career high school conference game at Wilmot tonight!" Badger senior Jake Kozlowski tweeted at 10:30 a.m.
Erbentraut was impressed with Badger's aggression.
"They came ready and did a really nice job," Erbentraut said. "They made shots inside and out, slowed us down on defense and played with heart. I know they wanted that game."
Lottig said the Badgers were firing on all cylinders.
"In a lot of our games this season
one or two guys seem to get going at the same time," Lottig said. "I felt like they all had it going for most of the game. I thought our kids were really cognizant of the fact that we had to rebound tenaciously for four quarters. To their credit, they did just that."
Badger guard Tony Ashley set the pace of the game, Lottig said.
"Tony was unbelievable tonight at keeping the game at the tempo we wanted," Lottig said. "He handled their pressure remarkably well and found guys at the right times. He finished with something like 11 assists. He's one of the most unselfish kids I've ever coached. That unselfish play by a lot of guys, coupled with our rebounding — Lincoln (Wieseman) had 14 boards, I believe — made us a tough team to beat tonight."
Ashley finished the game with 6 points. Lincoln Wieseman led the Badgers with 18 points, Jake Kozlowski scored 11, Derrick Buntrock had 10 and Berhorst put up 9.
Seeded No. 6 in the Division 1 playoff bracket, the Badgers will play Janesville Craig on Feb. 28.
Craig is 12-10 overall (10-8 Big Eight conference). Badger is 11-11 (6-8 SLC). Lottig expects a tough game.
"Craig will be more physical than any team we've seen all year," Lottig said.
"If we can match that and maintain our composure against their aggressive play, I like our chances. I am certainly pleased with the strides we're making right now."
Janesville Craig allows 62.8 points per game and scores 64.8, with players Jerry Ngobi (15.4 ppg, 24-point season high) and Mike Murphy (13.4 points per game, 28-point season high) leading the charge.
Badger allows 58 and scores 57.9.
Wieseman (13.7 ppg, 25-point season high) and Kozlowski (10.6 ppg, 26 point season high) are Badger's top scorers.
Badger will play Craig on Friday in Janesville at 7 p.m.
"Everybody is a 0-0," Erbentraut said of the upcoming playoffs.