By Mitch Skurzewski For Zaleski Sports
EDGAR – Drew Guden came out aggressive, hunting shots and had his eyes peeled for any opening in the Spencer Rockets’ defense during Friday’s WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal boys basketball game.
The junior guard’s aggressiveness permeated throughout the entire team as Edgar cruised to a 62-38 win. The Wildcats (18-5) advance to play Auburndale (19-4) in a regional final at Auburndale High School at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“We hadn’t played in a while so we wanted to come out fast,” Guden said, as Edgar had an opening-round bye. “We were aggressive and knocking down shots tonight and when we are doing that, we are hard to guard. We will need that if we are going to make a deep run.”
Guden seemed to do what he wanted. He started out in attack mode, involved his teammates in the middle portion of the game and slammed the door on the Rockets with a late scoring barrage. Guden finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
“Drew was great tonight. It wasn’t just scoring, but he chased (Brett) Kasch around all night defensively,” Edgar coach Dave Huss said. “He had seven assists. He has really developed this past year. He was letting things come to him and had good shot selection tonight.”
Fellow junior guard Austin Dahlke and Guden got the Wildcats off to a fast start, scoring the team’s first 17 points. From that point to the 13-minute mark of the second half, the junior guard duo didn’t score again. It was their teammates’ turn as Kyle Brewster finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and hit three 3s, including a pair late in the first half.
After Edgar jumped on the Rockets early, Spencer seemed to finally get comfortable behind Austin Bacon’s scoring. Bacon scored nine points in the first half to help Spencer remain within shouting distance down 26-16. But, Edgar finished the first half with am 8-0 flurry to extend the lead to an insurmountable 18-point advantage.
“That hurt. We weren’t patient a few offensive possessions there and they really shot well tonight from multiple guys,” Spencer coach Clint Nieman said. “Give them credit they played great tonight. This is a very tough regional. Losing to Edgar, there is no reason to hang your head losing to a good team like Edgar. They will give Auburndale a tough game tomorrow.”
Guden scored 13 more points in the final 13 minutes to erase any doubt of the outcome after Spencer guard Hayden Bauman hit back-to-back 3s to bring Spencer to within 40-25. The Rockets never got any closer.
Senior Rockets forward Eric Ehlert notched a double-double in the loss despite playing with a heavy heart. Ehlert’s grandfather passed away in a car crash Thursday.
“This is just a basketball game and is just one loss, but to see Eric lose his grandfather was certainly a heart-wrenching situation,” Nieman said. “I know basketball means a lot to him, so for him to play the way he did tonight, I am really proud of him.”
Despite the postseason exit, it was a strong season for the Rockets, who earned a share of the Cloverbelt Conference East Division title and amassed a 17-7 record.
“I am proud of all the guys, the seniors certainly led us this year,” Nieman said. “We went further than anyone thought and were co-champs, which wasn’t even thought of by many to begin the year. This team showed a lot of heart and desire.”
Edgar now looks ahead to Marawood Conference South Division foe Auburndale with whom they’ve had two matchups this season with each team winning on the road.
“We’ll enjoy this one for about a half-hour,” Huss said. “It’s a quick turnaround. It’s going to be a battle of two evenly-matched teams,” Huss said. “Auburndale is so solid and well-coached, they don’t hurt themselves. It should be a close, entertaining game.”
Wildcats 62, Rockets 38 Spencer 16 22 – 38 Edgar 34 28 – 62 SPENCER (38): Brett Kasch 3 2-2 10, Hayden Bauman 2 0-0 6, Austin Bacon 4 2-3 12, Eric Ehlert 4 0-0 10. FG: 13. FT: 4-5. 3-pointers: Spencer 8 (Kasch 2, Bauman 2, Bacon 2, Ehlert 2). Record: 17-7. EDGAR (62): Drew Guden 8 2-6 22, Austin Dahlke 4 0-0 11, Kyle Brewster 3 1-2 10, Brayden Baumgartner 4 1-2 9, Kaleb Hafferman 1 0-0 2, Konnor Wolf 0 2-2 2, Maxmillian Larson 2 2-2 6. FG: 22. FT: 8-14. 3-pointers: Edgar 10 (Guden 4, Dahlke 3, Brewster 3). Record: 18-5.