Crickets win double-overtime thriller to take Western Cloverbelt Conference title

FALL CREEK - Even when it looked bleak, Fall Creek refused to give up.

Down 49-43 in the first overtime of their ballgame with Stanley-Boyd last week Friday, Feb. 18 at Fall Creek for the boys' Western Cloverbelt Conference title, the Crickets rallied to tie the game for a second extra five minutes of basketball.

And there the Crickets, 19-4 overall, prevailed 53-52 despite several chances at the basket for the Orioles, 14-8 overall, to make the winning shot.

Soren Johnson led FC in scoring with 17 points and had a double-double with 10 rebounds while teammate Cameron Martzke finished with 13 points. The Crickets were able to win playing without leading scorer Bo Vollrath due to a foot injury.

"These kids just refuse to give up," FC head coach Rick Storlie said. "We were fortunate to turnover Stanley-Boyd on back to back possessions and then score off of them. Without our scoring leader, Bo Vollrath who suffered a foot injury Tuesday at Thorp, these guys pulled together and found a way to win."

One of the of the Fall Creek players stepping up in Vollrath's absence was sophomore forward Isaac Steinke. Not only did he make a big basket for the team midway through the second half but the two free-throws he made late in the second overtime put the Crickets in front for good. He finished with seven critical points as did junior guard Ben Kelly.

"Isaac Steinke came up big on both ends of the floor in the last moments of the game" Storlie said. "He made both freet-hrows, in a very high pressure situation, to give us the lead. Then to contest the final rebound as time ran out. He saw more time due to Vollrath's injury and came through. I am very proud of him."

Stanley-Boyd seemingly had the advantage of position up by six in the first overtime with 1:43 to go. But three critical turnovers and two missed throws (S-B was 6-for-13 from the line) opened the door for the home team to rally. Leo Hagberg and Jeff Ritger nailed the three-pointers that pulled FC even by the end of the first overtime.

Stanley-Boyd got three good looks at the basket in the last :10 seconds of the second overtime, but could not convert. Thus, Fall Creek won its second straight WCC title.

"There were so many big plays and moments, it was a great high school basketball game," Storlie said. "So many swings both ways and emotions were running very high with teams and fams. Too bad anyone had to lose. We are so proud and happy to be back to back conference champions. With only three players returning from last year's team. many gave us much chance of repeating. Soren Johnson, Cameron Martzke and Bo Vollrath were all members of last year's team. Vollrath was unable to play in the championship game, Johnson missed four conference games due to injury, our young kids grew up fast. As a coach, I am so pleased with this group of young men. It was a great way to cap off Senior Night and Parents Night in such a memorable game!"

Fall Creek will now play for the overall league title this Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m. in a Cloverbelt Conference crossover game at Neillsville against No. 5 ranked Marshfield Columbus (20-3) which won first in the East Division.

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