MADISON — It wasn’t going to be Hayden Baughman who beat Deerfield on Friday morning.
The Demons’ defensive scheme made sure of that.
Well, Hayden Baughman didn’t beat them. Eion Kressin and Charlie Bleskachek did.
Chippewa Falls McDonell’s senior standout was hounded defensively, so he let his supporting cast do the damage. Kressin, Bleskachek and Cory Hoglund all scored in double figures as McDonell continued its season-ending surge with a 56-46 victory over Deerfield in the WIAA Division 5 state semifinals at the Kohl Center.
“I just think we played really nice as a team,” Kressin said.
The Macks (18-10), who finished fourth in the Western Cloverbelt during the regular season, will play Bangor for the state championship at 11:05 a.m. today.
What got McDonell there wasn’t Baughman’s shooting. It was his passing and the play of his teammates. Kressin had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Bleskachek had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Hoglund battled through foul trouble to score 11 points.
“They were just finding good spots and making it possible for me to get them the ball,” Baughman said. “They were playing with a lot of energy on the defensive end, getting rebounds. They brought that to the offensive end.”
The Demons (23-5) came in determined to get the ball out of Baughman’s hands. They face-guarded him with several defenders and blitzed him on pick-and-rolls. Sometimes they switched, sometimes they doubled. All that attention was effective to a degree. Baughman was held to nine points on 3-for-12 shooting.
“The three guys we had on him did a really nice job,” Deerfield coach Dave Borgurd said. “We were going to take our chances with everybody else.
Where Baughman did burn Deerfield was with his passing. He added six rebounds, five steals, four blocks and six key assists to his stat line.
When the Demons swarmed him, he looked for his teammates. Kressin and Bleskachek did much of their damage on rolls, punishing smaller defenders around the rim.
For Kressin, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, it was a coming out party on a statewide stage — not too dissimilar to the eye-opening 23-point outing Baughman had against Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran as a sophomore in the 2016 state semis.
Kressin recorded a double-double with a brace on the left hand he broke in practice the day before the playoffs started.
“It’s probably the team that’s progressed the most of any team I’ve had,” McDonell coach Archie Sherbinow said. “Our growth has been tremendous to get here, and Eion has been a prime example of that.”
Deerfield was paced by Nate Siewert’s 20 points and 12 rebounds. But the Demons fell behind immediately and left themselves few avenues for a comeback. They were just 1-for-7 from 3-point range and 5-for-17 from the free-throw line. The Macks, meanwhile, were 21-for-32 from the line.
“I was proud of the way our kids kept their composure,” Sherbinow said.
NOTES: Sherbinow shared a laugh with junior guard Jaebin Bourget in the closing seconds. Bourget lost one of the lenses from his glasses and then went to the line and, with only one lens, missed two free throws with 32 seconds remaining. Bourget finished with four points in 23 important minutes off the bench. Sherbinow and the coaching staff had finally convinced senior forward Joe Schwetz to put a strap on his glasses. Now they’ll refocus that sales pitch on Bourget. “We probably lead the state tournament in players wearing glasses,” Sherbinow said. … Deerfield was at the state tournament for the first time. McDonell is making its third consecutive trip.