Amherst comeback falls short in State Semifinal loss
Despite a second-half rally, the Amherst High School
boys basketball team was unable to overtake fourth-ranked Cameron, as it fell in
the WIAA Division 4 State Semifinals at the Kohl Center
Thursday, March 17.
Cameron (26-1) went into halftime with a 22-11 lead, but the
sixth-ranked Falcons (25-2) opened the second half on a 13-4 run to pull within
26-24 with left.
The game remained tight into the closing seconds of the game,
when Cameron used a dunk to take a 44-41 lead, and a potential game-tying
three-pointer from Amherst
senior forward Tyler Biadasz at the buzzer was off the mark, as Cameron
advanced to the WIAA Division 4 State Championship Game with a 44-41 win.
“We just ran out of time,” said Biadasz. “I’m proud of my
guys for the way they fought.
“Free throws didn’t go our way tonight, but that’s the game
and that’s basketball,” he said. “And you’ve just got to live with it.”
“We’re definitely unsatisfied,” said senior guard Garrett
Groshek. “The first half was rough for us, but we definitely came back and gave
it our all, and that’s really all you can ask for.
“Basketball’s one of those things where you can have an
off-day, and we did a little bit in the first half,” he said. “Our defense
wasn’t quite as good as it’s been this postseason run.”
The Falcons carried a 17-game winning streak into the
program’s third appearance at state, as they limited their opponents to 31.5
points per game in their four postseason wins to advance to Madison.
Amherst got out to an early lead Thursday night, as Biadasz
scored on back-to-back layups to give the team a 4-0 lead 1:07 into the game.
However, Cameron answered with a 17-2 run, as 6-6
guard/forward and NCAA Division II Bemidji State (Minn.) recruit Peyton Dibble scored nine
points during that stretch, to give the team a 17-6 lead with 6:35 to play in
the first half.
Cameron maintained an 11-point lead, as it went into
halftime up 22-11, while Amherst
stayed within range despite shooting only 2-of-10 from the field and committing
12 turnovers in the final
of the first half.
“At halftime we just kind of put our minds to it, put our
hearts to it,” said senior forward Cam Gaulke. “And we ‘D-up’ well.”
Early in the second half the Falcons turned to the 6-4 Biadasz,
who will play on the defensive line for the University of Wisconsin-Madison football
team in the fall, and he scored the team’s first seven points after
intermission to start a 13-4 run that brought Amherst within 26-24 with 9:11
left in the game.
“When Ty gets going, he’s a tough guy to stop,” said Groshek.
“At 270, he’s a tough guy to stop in the first place, but when he’s able to put
it in the hoop and go through three guys at a time, it shows that there’s not
many teams in the state that can match up with his size and how athletic he is
as a big man.
“He showed some skill tonight, and he definitely led us on
that comeback,” he said.
“I had the mentality coming out of halftime that I wanted
the ball,” said Biadasz. “I got the ball and scored, and I knew nobody could
stop my drive.
“Then they started face guarding me in the bottom of the
zone, and other players opened up,” he said.
The Falcons used a three-pointer from senior guard Harry
Piotrowski to pull within 34-33 with
to play and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Gaulke missed the front
end of one-and-one free throws with
After a layup from Dibble pushed the lead to 36-33 with 3:43
to go, Biadasz knocked down a pair of free throws with 3:06 left to make it
36-35, and Amherst had a pair of chances to take the lead, but turned the ball
over on back-to-back possessions.
Cameron responded with a layup to increase its lead to 38-35
with left and Groshek
knocked down a jumper with
remaining to pull the Falcons within 38-37, but Dibble answered with a jumper
to increase the Cameron lead to 40-37 with 40.2 seconds left.
Gaulke was fouled as he scored on a layup with 26 seconds to
go to make it 40-39, but his free throw was off the mark, and Dibble was fouled
and knocked down a pair of free throws to push his team’s lead to 42-39 with 18.1
seconds to play.
Instead of going for a three-pointer and the tie, Amherst,
which was 1-of-9 from three-point range in the game at that point, elected to
go for a quick basket, as Groshek scored on a reverse layup with 9.1 seconds left
to make it 42-41.
Following a timeout, Cameron inbounded the ball from under
the Amherst basket and went deep to Dibble, who broke wide open down the other
side of the court, caught the pass and threw down a two-handed dunk to give
Cameron a 44-41 lead with 7.4 seconds remaining and the clock still running
after the made basket.
Amherst had one final play, as Biadasz caught the inbound
pass near halfcourt with four seconds to play, took three dribbles, pump-faked and
put up a three-pointer with three defenders on him.
However, his shot went off the backboard and just wide of
the rim, as Cameron held on for a 44-41 win to end the Falcons’ season at 25-2.
“We had some turnovers, and the ball just didn’t roll our
way,” said Amherst
boys basketball head coach Scott Groholski. “There were a couple of spots there
right down the stretch, that if we made the play, I think the game would’ve
“And one thing I’m going to regret forever is, leaving the
huddle at the end there (after the last timeout), I knew they were sending that
kid deep, and we didn’t talk about it,” he said. “And they chipped him and released
him, and there he went.”
Dibble shot 9-of-14 from the field and finished with 22
points and six rebounds to lead Cameron, which lost 62-43 to top-ranked
Whitefish Bay Dominican (27-1) in the WIAA Division 4 State Championship Game
Saturday, March 19, as Dominican won its Wisconsin-record fifth-consecutive
Biadasz went 8-of-13 from the field and finished with 20
points and five rebounds and Gaulke was 4-of-7 from the field and totaled 10
points and seven rebounds to lead the Falcons, while the rest of the team shot
3-of-17 from the field and the whole team combined to go 10-of-18 (55.6
percent) from the free-throw line in the loss.
“Obviously our shots weren’t falling very well,” said
Piotrowski. “We knew we had to get it inside to the big guys like Tyler and
Cam, and we tried doing that in the second half, and other things opened up,
and we hit a few of them.
“We just needed to hit a few more,” he said.
The loss was the final game for Amherst seniors Biadasz, Gaulke, Groshek,
Piotrowski, Amaziah McCall, Dylan Heck and Nick Blum, who were freshmen when Amherst reached the State
Semifinals in 2013.
Most were also part of the Amherst football team that won the WIAA
Division 5 State Title last fall and finished as the 2014 State Runner-up and the
2012 State Champion, and helped lead the Falcons to back-to-back Central
Wisconsin Conference-8 (CWC-8) Titles in basketball the last two seasons.
“These guys have been great all year,” said Groholski. “They’re
competitors to the end.
“I knew that no matter what we were down, we were going to
come back,” he said. “It just wasn’t our night.”
“We’re a pretty tight group,” said Piotrowski. “Obviously in
football, we loved doing that, and we had the same goal, coming here in
“We all love each other, we all play well with each other,
and it’s a little disappointing it ended like this, but I don’t think any of us
regret anything,” he said. “We’re just sad that it’s over.”