ATHENS BOYS BASKETBALL SURVIVES DIVISION 5 SECTIONAL SEMIFINAL OVER TURTLE LAKE


Joe Anderson and Cooper Diedrich


Zaleski Sports


EAU CLAIRE – The Athens boys basketball team stands one win away from its first-ever trip to the state tournament after holding on for a 34-31 win over Turtle Lake in a WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal Thursday night at Eau Claire North High School.


Athens (22-6) will play Hurley (23-4) in a Division 5 sectional final Saturday at Chequamegon High School in Park Falls at 1:30 p.m. Athens has never made a state tournament, and Hurley hasn’t been there since winning the title in 1949.


Athens took a 20-12 lead into halftime as Aiden Janke scored with 3:10 left and neither team was able to make a hoop for the rest of the half.


Turtle Lake stormed back to pull ahead 31-30 on a basket by Blake Thill with 4½ minutes left, but the Lakers wouldn’t score again.


Kody Lepak scored with 2:02 to go to put the Bluejays back on top for good.


Cooper Diedrich added two free throws with 10 seconds left for Athens to extend the lead to three. A 3-point attempt from Thill went in and out with 2 seconds left and Athens was able to run out the clock.


Hanke finished with 12 points, Conner Sheahan added eight, and Diedrich and Lepak each chipped in seven for the Bluejays.


“I think our defensive effort was the biggest strong point,” Diedrich said. “Some of our shots weren’t falling at times, but we held it together on defense and ended getting out with a victory.”


Brendan Strenke had 10 points to lead Turtle Lake (21-7).





Bluejays 34, Lakers 31

Athens 20 14 - 34

Turtle Lake 12 19 - 31

ATHENS (34): Conner Sheahan 3 0-0 8, Cooper Diedrich 1 5-6 7, Evan Guralski 0 0-0 0, Kody Lepak 3 0-0 7, Aiden Janke 5 2-2 12. FG: 12. FT: 7-8. 3-pointers: 3 (Sheahan 2, Lepak 1). Fouls: 6. Fouled out: none. Record: 22-6.

TURTLE LAKE (31): Toby Kahl 0 0-0 0, Joel Humphrey 3 0-0 7, Blake Thill 1 0-0 3, Walter Thill 1 0-0 2, Brendan Strenke 4 0-2 10, Brady Peterson 1 0-0 2, Noah Torgerson 3 0-0 7. FG: 13. FT: 0-2. 3-pointers: 5 (Strenke 2, Humphrey 1, Torgerson 1, B. Thill 1). Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none. Record: 21-7.

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