By Steve Pilz
STRATFORD – The undefeated Stratford Tigers will play a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal next Thursday, March 7, at Wisconsin Dells, after they completely dismantled the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau Red Hawks 63-27 Saturday night in a regional final at Stratford High School.
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeu simply had no answer for the 24-0 Marawood South champion Tigers. It was a game of streaks for the visitors and none of them was any good.
After matching baskets for the first few minutes, Stratford started to extend its lead. When Chandler Schmidt hit his third 3-pointer and 11th point of the first half, the Tigers led 19-9 with 9:10 left.
That’s when it turned south for the Red Hawks. They missed their next 11 shots and after they got one to go, they missed nine more and trailed 37-11 at the intermission.
“I thought we played excellent defense tonight,” said Stratford coach Curt Schmidt. “Our game plan was sound and the kids played hard, but ultimately, they had a lot of heart. Awesome heart. I’m really proud of our defensive effort.”
With nothing to lose. the Red Hawks (14-11) threw out some full-court pressure that the Tigers needed to adjust to. After three consecutive turnovers, the Tigers got three consecutive layups from Vaughn Breit and another from Ben Barten to knock the wind out GET’s sails.
“We had a couple problems when they went to the run and jump (pressure),” continued Schmidt, “but otherwise we were pretty flawless. We practiced against it, but when it’s live it’s a little different until you get it calmed down.”
And to add insult to injury, the Red Hawks’ final streak was it’s worst as they missed 16 straight shots at one point in the second half and finished the game 10-for-59 and just 2-for-30 from beyond the arc with no player in double digits.
Conversely, the Tigers were cruising, shooting 20-for-49 overall, 5-for-13 from three, and 18 of 26 at the foul line. Breit led the way with 21 ooints, and Barten and Schmidt chipped in with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Tigers 63, Red Hawks 27
GET 11 16 – 27
Stratford 37 26 – 63
GET (27): Alex Pearson 1 0-0 2, Keagan Wall 0 1-2 1, Benjamin Thompson 2 1-3 5, Sawyer Schmidt 3 2-2 9, Jacob Jumbeck 2 1-3 6, Grant Beirne 1 0- 2, Trent Harshman 1 0-0 2. FG: 10-59. 3-pointers: 2-30 (Jumbeck, Schmidt). FT: 5-11. Turnovers: 11. Record: 14-11.
STRATFORD (63): Okley Wrensch 0 2-2 2, Hunter Hannan 1 1-2 4, Chandler Schmidt 4 3-5 14, Sam Schoenfuss 1 0-0 3, Vaughn Breit 8 4-6 21, Lance Heidman 1 2-4 4, Ben Barten 5 4-6 15. FG: 20-49. 3-pointers: 5-13. (Schmidt 3, Breit, Schoefuss). FT: 18-26. Turnovers: 12. Record: 24-0.