By Tim Johnson
WESTON – It’s been more than three decades since Marathon has made back-to-back appearances at the WIAA state boys basketball tournament.
The Raiders have a chance to end that drought now.
Carter Hanke and Cameron Schilling scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, as Marathon downed Auburndale 67-55 in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal at D.C. Everest. The win was Marathon’s sixth straight and with a victory against Oshkosh Lourdes on Saturday, the Raiders would go back to Madison a year after the team reached the state championship game.
Marathon last made consecutive tournament appearances in the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, and both teams lost their first game at state.
“Our coach (Adam Jacobson) told us he was two-months-old the last time that happened,” Schilling said.
The Raiders advanced to the sectional final despite some nervous moments down the stretch. Marathon led by 20 points with under nine minutes left in regulation only to have Auburndale rally and close to within eight points less than four minutes later.
Marathon’s Preston Weber, who finished with 10 points, responded with two key baskets and the Raiders were able to close out Auburndale in the third matchup of the year between the Marawood Conference South Division rivals.
“We kind of made some bad passes and bad decisions in (Auburndale’s late run), which is kind of uncharacteristic for us,” Jacobson said. “but with the experience we have, we weathered the storm.”
Cooper Weinfurter and Colton Wright both had 16 points to lead Auburndale, with all of Wright’s production coming in the second half. Hunter Wright added 12 points.
The teams split a pair of regular-season matchups with the Raiders getting a 63-46 win at Auburndale on Feb. 23 to close out the regular-season schedule. Hanke had 30 points and 14 rebounds in that win and scored 12 of the Raiders’ 30 points in the first half.
Hanke’s most impressive shot didn’t even count – a last-second heave to end the first half. His attempt from just past mid-court hit high on the board, bounced up and got jammed momentarily between the basket and the clock situated on top of it before the ball bounced down and went through. It didn’t count but drew some appreciation from the crowd for the effort.
Marathon led 30-19 at the break as the Raiders outscored Auburndale 25-9 over the final 10 minutes of the half.
“We just were looking to be aggressive all night (offensively) and attack,” Schilling said. “We wanted to get the ball inside and that opened things for us shooting the ball (from the perimeter).”
Auburndale managed just six field goals in the opening 18 minutes and doubled that performance in the second half.
“The first half offensively killed us,” Auburndale coach Chad Weinfurter said. “I thought scoring only 19 points (in the half) was a tough thing to overcome. I thought we got good shots and they just didn’t go. I loved our kids’ effort in the second half to make that comeback. They could have packed it in.”
The Raiders’ offensive momentum continued in the second half and consecutive 3-pointers by Jaden Koeller and Schilling gave Marathon a 55-35 lead with 8:35 left in regulation.
“I thought we were playing inside-out really well (offensively),” Jacobson said. “We wanted a post touch every time down the floor and play off of that. Then when (Auburndale) went on their run, we got away from that.”
Auburndale responded with a 12-0 run and Colton Wright’s 3-pointer attempt from near the top of the key hit off the rim with five minutes left. Weber then scored four straight points for Marathon and Auburndale never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“We had a tough stretch there but we came together as a team, calmed down and took a time out,” Hanke said. “We were able to gain our composure and get back on top.”
Raiders 67, Apaches 55
Auburndale 19 36 – 55
Marathon 30 37 – 67
AUBURNDALE (55): Cooper Weinfurter 4 6-7 16, Hunter Wright 4 4-6 12, Fletcher Raab 0 0-0 0, Carter Wilcott 3 1-1 7, Aaron Marth 2 0-0 4, Dylan Paun 0 0-0 0, Colton Wright 6 2-2 16. FG: 19. FT: 13-16. 3-pointers: 4 (C. Wright 2, Weinfurter 2). Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. Record: 19-6.
MARATHON (67): Jaden Koeller 4 0-2 9, Clarke Mouw 0 1-2 1, Michael Kurtz 4 0-0 8, Cameron Schilling 7 2-3 18, Preston Weber 5 0-2 10, Hunter Seubert 1 0-0 2, Carter Hanke 7 4-4 19. FG: 28. FT: 7-13. 3-pointers: 4 (Schilling 2, Hanke 1, Koeller 1). Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Schilling. Record: 21-4.