March 11, 2023
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
OSHKOSH - Warm up the buses for another road trip to the Kohl Center in Madison.
The Brillion boys basketball team qualified for the WIAA state tournament for the second season in a row with a 77-73 sectional final win against Xavier at Oshkosh North on Saturday afternoon.
"It's a little bit of a dream," Brillion coach Chad Shimek said of going back to the state tournament. "You think about it. You think about all the cool things that go with it and you know how tough it's going to be ... games like this."
The Lions held on despite a frantic push from Xavier in the final moments. Grady Geiger made a free throw to give Brillion a 76-70 lead with 17 seconds left. Xavier cut it to a one-possession game with a made 3. With 6.1 seconds left, Jeremy Lorenz made a free throw to push the lead to four and punch the Lions' ticket to state.
Both Geiger and Lorenz, Brillion's front court, made shots from all over the court spreading the floor and forcing Xavier to guard them on the perimeter. Geiger scored 13 points in the first half - nine of them off 3-point shots. Lorenz scored 12 points in the first half with one 3.
"Trust me, our plan is never for me and Grady to be chucking up shots from the outside. It's usually the opposite, but you know, we're basketball players and take what the defense gives us and if Grady hits one, his confidence goes through the roof," Lorenz said.
The Lions built a 12-point halftime lead after a 7-0 run, which forced Xavier to spend much of the second half trying to dig out of the hole.
All five starters - Lorenz, Geiger, Bennett Olson, Parker Braun, Caeden Holly - contributed key points. Owen Krepline and Lucas Mathes both scored 3-point baskets off the bench.
It all adds up to a victory and a trip to the state tournament. Last year's season ended to West Salem in the state semifinal. West Salem also qualified for a return trip to the state tournament with a 68-46 win against Osceola on Saturday.
"Honestly, I'm just looking forward to spending more time with these guys," Shimek said.
Complete coverage of the sectional round will be featured in the March 16, 2023 print edition of the newspaper.