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Antigo stuns T-Birds in tourney opener

April 16, 2020 by Brett LaBore

In March, they call it March Madness. The Lakeland boys’ basketball team was looking to make some noise of their own in the playoffs.

The Antigo Red Robins stood in their way. In a regional matchup between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds at Ted Voigt Court, the Red Robins advanced with a 61-59 win.

“They tried to pressure the ball whether it was Collin or Alex,” explained coach Rich Fortier. “And by doing they were able to have that guy sitting in the diagonal better and by pressuring you couldn’t get a fast switch over to the other side.”

Antigo came out firing with two 3-pointers early in the contest. Michael Ouimette came back with two points right to the rim, drawing the foul. He made the free throw. He also scored two on an alley-oop pass from Collin Quade.

The Red Robins led 13-7 seven minutes in.

“We had some chances to swing it quicker and again that pressure is intense. There’s long guys guarding on top,” coach Fortier said.

Then the Thunderbirds went on a huge 18-0 run. Here’s how they got there.

Alex Fortier hit a spot-up 3-pointer as well as a Ouimette floater in the paint.

They also drew numerous fouls on the Red Robins. Antigo had seven fouls compared to just one for Lakeland.

Brayden Wiczek came up and knocked down two free throws before hitting a 3-pointer in the corner. Other freshman Will Fortier scored two points on a fast break pass from Ouimette.

Using their speed, the Thunderbirds continued to score on the fast break, this time from Wiczek on an easy layup.

The Red Robins took a timeout down 21-13.

“We were in danger of running them off the court,” coach Fortier said.

Sitting in the post, Ouimette kicked it out to Quade for a 3-pointer. Will Fortier hit a free throw to take the 25-13 lead.

Taking the lid off the rim, the Red Robins started to make some shots, starting with a 3-pointer. They ended up going on a 6-0 run.

“That really switched the game,” coach Fortier said. “We squeezed it a little and we didn’t make a couple shots.”

The Thunderbirds went cold themselves, but scored before the end of the half when Wiczek scored off of his own miss.

Lakeland led 27-23 at the half.

“Instead of being a nice comfortable eight-, 10-, 12-point lead, we get to halftime up by four points,” coach Fortier said.

Coming out of the break, Tanner Resch came out aggressive and scored five straight points, leading to an 8-0 Antigo run. He led all scorers with 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half.

Countering that run, Lakeland went on a 7-0 run. Jacob Borak hit two free throws followed by an Alex Fortier 3-pointer. 

Taking a timeout, the Red Robins led 35-34 with 11:10 left to play.

Alex Fortier drilled another 3-pointer. He totaled four for the night and scored 15 points. But the Red Robins answered with back-to-back 3-pointers of their own.

The Thunderbirds kept fighting. Will Fortier scored two on an assist from Quade and Ouimette scored two off a steal. Then Ouimette scored two more point on another alley-oop layup.

Lakeland took a timeout down 47-43 with six minutes to play.

A sequence of 3-pointers broke out. Alex Fortier hit another big time 3-pointer, but Nevin Cornelius came back with one of his own, followed by another Antigo 3.

The six straight points pushed Antigo’s lead to 53-46. Quade connected on a 3-pointer of his own to cut the lead to 53-49. Lakeland took a quick timeout. Both teams were going back and forth.

After Antigo made more shots, Will Fortier made two straight baskets, one off an Alex Fortier missed shot and 

another in the paint. Three Thunderbirds scored at least 12 points.

Up by five points with under two minutes to go, the Red Robins got called for an over-and-back. Quade was then fouled and made two free throws.

Still down, the Thunderbirds were in foul mode with 25 seconds left. The Red Robins came up and made a free throw to lead 61-56.

Running out of time, the Thunderbirds were in desperation mode. Wiczek stepped up to knock down a 3-pointer in the corner with 5.9 seconds to go, their eighth 3-pointer of the game.

The Thunderbirds fouled immediately, sending Resch to the line in the double bonus. He missed both free throws, Lakeland corralled the rebound and called their final timeout.

With just 4.1 seconds to go, the Thunderbirds could go for the tie or the win. On the inbounds, Nolan St. Germaine took the ball, sped down the length of the court and had a good look at a layup. St. Germaine missed the layup and the Red Robins won 61-59.

“We were able to get Nolan a running start and you know again there’s a lot going through his head with 4.1,” coach Fortier said. “I would not fault the read at all. He went right to the rim. I would have loved to go to overtime and taken our chances. I would have loved that and for whatever reason the ball just didn’t go in the hole.”

Antigo advances to the next round of the playoffs to take on number one seed Hortonville tonight. The Thunderbird season ends.

“Disappointed in the outcome, wish we could have done better,” coach Fortier said. “We have to be thankful for our seniors. It takes a lot of years to get here. It never ends the way you want to.”

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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