MADISON — Chippewa Falls McDonell played the style of basketball it wanted to in the first half.
But the preferred tempo of Sheboygan Area Lutheran took over after halftime, and there was no looking back.
The Crusaders scored 45 points in the second half after putting up just 29 in the first to pull away from McDonell for a 74-61 win in the Division 5 state semifinals on Friday at the Kohl Center.
“The first half we played them kind of the way we were hoping to play them,” McDonell coach Adam Schilling said. “Eventually they wore us down.”
The fourth-seeded Macks (18-10) slowed things down into a halfcourt game for much of the first half, and it kept them hanging around with the top-seeded Crusaders (26-2). McDonell only trailed 29-25 at the break and held Sheboygan Area Lutheran star big man Jacob Ognacevic to seven first-half points.
The up-tempo style of Sheboygan Area Lutheran couldn’t be held off forever though. The Crusaders had three players score double digit points in the second half, as a pair of short runs helped them pull away for the victory.
It ended McDonell’s fourth consecutive trip to state in the semifinals, the second time in that span that the Macks were knocked out in that round.
An 8-3 run midway through the second half turned a 39-36 lead into a 47-39 advantage, with Ognacevic and Verhagen scoring four points apiece in that stretch.
A run of eight unanswered points a few minutes later pushed the lead to 14, and the Macks never recovered.
“They just kept scoring and scoring. They were real consistent on their offensive end, and we weren’t,” Schilling said.
Four players scored in double figures for the Crusaders, with most of the scoring coming after halftime. Ognacevic had a game-high 19 points.
“When we were able to get the ball on the run, and Casey (Verhagen) was able to get the ball to (Ognacevic) and push the ball, we had a couple really nice looks,” Sheboygan Area Lutheran coach Nick Verhagen said. “I think we outmatched them with our pace, our tempo.
“The stars stepped up today and were able to get the ball in the hoop.”
Cory Hoglund had a team-high 18 points to lead the Macks, and played solid defense on 6-foot-7 Ognacevic for long stretches of the game. He held the lanky big man to well under his average of over 30 points per game.
“For how big he is, he’s very agile,” Hoglund said. “He’s a slippery guy. Keeping him contained was challenging, but we did our best.”
Delvin Barnstable added 18 points for Sheboygan Area Lutheran, and Graden Grabowski chipped in with 16.
Defense was a strong point for the Macks, especially in halfcourt sets. The Crusaders average over 80 points per game, but were held to less than half of that in the first half.
“I thought we played pretty well in the lane (defensively). We tried to make everything tougher in the lane when they got the ball down there,” Schilling said. “We held them to one shot the majority of the first half.”
The Crusaders tried to employ a zone defense at times in the first half, and McDonell’s JD Bohaty — who finished with 11 points — made them pay with three 3-pointers.
At halftime, the sharpshooter forced Sheboygan Area Lutheran to adjust its plan of attack moving forward.
“He broke down our 1-3-1 a little bit,” coach Verhagen said. “We had to figure out (Bohaty).”
Jaebin Bourget scored 13 points for McDonell. Charlie Bleskachek added nine points and nine rebounds, while Eion Kressin scored six points and grabbed eight boards.
The Macks graduate four seniors — Hoglund, Bourget, Bleskachek and Efe Selvitopu. McDonell went to state every year of their high school careers.
“I knew coming in that we’d have a strong (senior) group we could lean on, just to make my first season as a coach somewhat easy,” Schilling said. “They’re a great example to all the younger kids we have in the school system.
“Wins and losses come and go, but these are kids that everybody is proud to see.”
Sheboygan Area Lutheran 74, McDonell 61
McDonell (18-10): Cory Hoglund 18, JD Bohaty 11, Jaebin Bourget 13, Tanner Opsal 2, Logan Hughes 2, Eion Kressin 6, Charlie Bleskachek 9.
Sheboygan Area Lutheran (26-2): Robby Michael 2, Malachi Stapel 1, Graden Grabowski 16, Michael Berger 6, Delvin Barnstable 18, Jacob Ognacevic 19, Casey Verhagen 12.
3-pointers: McDonell 6 (Bohaty 3, Hoglund, Bourget, Bleskachek), Sheboygan Area Lutheran 3 (Barnstable 3).
Halftime: Sheboygan Area Lutheran 29-25.