Raiders can’t overcome hot-shooting Golden Eagles in WIAA regional loss

            Connor Weltzien of Arcadia finished a drive with a layup during their game against Mauston last week Tuesday.            (Times photograph by Andrew Dannehy)

            Arcadia’s Maverick Drazkowski soared for a layup in the first half of their game against Mauston last week Tuesday.     (Times photograph by Andrew Dannehy)

The Arcadia boys basketball team came back from an early flurry of three pointers, but ran out of gas down the stretch, falling 73-67, in their Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regional quarterfinal home game against Mauston last week Tuesday.

After trailing by 16 points at halftime, the Raiders fought back to tie the game at 54 with about six minutes remaining. The game was tied again at 56, but Arcadia ran out of gas, while Mauston went to its leading scorer, Brock Massey, to secure the win.

Massey knocked down a jumper to put his team ahead for good before Mason Franek made a three pointer, giving Mauston a 61-56 lead with 3:35 remaining in the game.

After a basket by Arcadia’s Connor Weltzien cut into the lead, Massey scored while being fouled, then made the ensuing free throw to put his team ahead by six with three minutes left. Massey made two more free throws a possession later. 

Arcadia continued to battle, a three pointer by Prestin Scow and free throw by Devon Baier cut the lead to four with 1:04 remaining, but Massey made four straight free throws to essentially clinch the win. 

Massey came into the game averaging 29.8 points per game, before putting up 41 against the Raiders, as he went 12-for-12 from the free-throw line. 

Mauston came out firing, knocking down 12 three pointers in the first half as they took a 41-25 lead into halftime. The Raiders adjusted at the intermission, however. Coach Ryan Sonnentag said he knew Massey could have a big game, but wanted his team to do a better job challenging the other shooters.

“We were too passive in the first half, (Massey) is a really outstanding player. He is an all-state player, averaging 30 a game, so he is at the top of our scouting report, listed in bold and underlined three times,” Sonnentag said. “We just weren’t aggressive enough closing out on their shooters.” 

The Raiders began chipping away early in the second half. Maverick Drazkowski scored on Arcadia’s first possession then Weltzien knocked down a three pointer. Scow cut the Mauston lead to 10 with a three pointer less than three minutes into the half. 

“The second half message was ‘heat up the ball,’ make those other guys make some decisions instead of just catching it and shooting it without a hand in their face,” Sonnentag said.

After making 12 three pointers in the first half, the Golden Eagles connected on just two in the second. 

With about 13 minutes left in the game, Sonnentag shouted onto the court “Mav, Connor, let’s work.”

His two leading scorers did just that.

Weltzien answered with a three pointer, then they scored consecutive baskets to cut the lead to four at 48-42. 

Sonnentag said a more aggressive offensive approach was also a part of his team’s plan coming out of halftime. He said he knew his team would have to score a lot of points to win the game because stopping Massey was an impossible task. 

“We had to be efficient offensively and we weren’t efficient in the first half,” Sonnentag said. “In the second half, we really started to attack the way we wanted to attack offensively,” 

The key to an efficient performance, Sonnentag indicated, was getting the ball in to Drazkowski and Weltzien. 

“We knew we could attack them inside,” Sonnentag said. “I think part of the first half frustration was that we didn’t do it as much as we wanted to.”

The duo scored 23 of Arcadia’s first 29 points in the second half, including a key four-point possession that tied the game after Massey was called for a technical foul for criticizing the officials. Weltzien calmly sank both free throws from the technical then Drazkowski scored on a lob play, tying the game at 54 with 6:20 remaining.

“They’re a very formidable one-two punch as far as forwards go, it’s something that not a lot of teams have, two guys inside like that that can really score and dominate,” Sonnentag said. “They’ve been great for us all year long.”

Drazkowski scored again to tie the game at 56, but the Raiders didn’t have enough juice to take the lead.

Arcadia finished the season with a 13-12 record, but they were hot entering the tournament, winning nine of their last 13. 

After averaging 6.5 points per game as a junior, Weltzien averaged 20 points as a senior. Sonnentag said his impact on the team was about more than scoring, however. 

“Connor has been a tremendous leader, I’m so proud of how he led this year by example,” Sonnentag said. “He was just an absolute warrior the whole year, guarding the other team’s best player. It might not look like it, but I think he did a pretty good job on (Massey) tonight…. I thought he made him take some really difficult shots tonight.”

Drazkowski figures to be an even bigger part of Arcadia’s attack next year. He went from scoring less than one point per game as a sophomore to averaging 18.2 as a junior. The high-flying six-foot-four forward gave the Raiders plenty of highlight dunks and blocked shots, even though he played the last month with a back injury that Sonnentag said has really affected him. 

Weltzien led the Raiders with 27 points, while Drazkowski added 26. 

Mauston shot 63.8 percent from the field in the game, including 14-for-20 on three-point attempts. They also made 13 of their 16 free throws. For the season, they shot 41.5 percent from the field, 28.7 percent on three pointers and 61.4 percent from the charity stripe. 

While Massey made five-of-seven three pointers, the Golden Eagles also got three apiece from Mason Franek, Kyle Dahl and Jasper Walsh. 

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