Red Raiders win title for first time in 92 years
MADISON — It was a wild final 6 seconds, but in the end, the Central High School boys basketball team can call itself state champions.
The Red Raiders survived a wild, albeit confusing, final seconds in the Division 2 state title, to hold off Cedarburg 55-53.
Kobe King, who was named Mr. Basketball of Wisconsin earlier in the day, finished with 28 points and Bailey Kale added 15 for the top-ranked Red Raiders (27-2), who saw only two other players score points.
Second-ranked Cedarburg (25-3) was led by John Diener’s 25 points.
The fury started with 12 seconds left when Cedarburg’s John Diener nailed a 3-pointer to pull his team within 54-53.
After a timeout, Central managed to run some clock before Noah Parcher went to the line for a 1-and-1 bonus free-throw attempt with 6 seconds remaining.
The sophomore guard missed the first attempt, but the rebound went to King. What happened next is hard to decipher.
King immediately put up and missed a shot, instead of holding the ball to get fouled.
Fortunately for the Red Raiders, Jordan Davis got the offensive rebound and was fouled with 2 seconds on the clock.
Adding to the drama, Davis missed the first of a double-bonus attempt, but made the second free throw to go up two points.
And, in those final two seconds, Cedarburg threw up a halfcourt heave that hit the backboard just right of the rim, but it apparently came after the buzzer. Had it been six inches to the left, it may have banked in.
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It was a bit of an ugly first half, as the Red Raiders led 21-18 heading into the locker room thanks to nine offensive rebounds, after shooting just 9-for-25 from the field. Cedarburg was 7-for-15, but turned the ball over five times, on top of not rebounding on defense.
In the second half, King put Central up 38-28 on a jumper off a Johnny Davis steal with 12:33 remaining in regulation but the Bulldogs chipped away and had the game within 49-48 at the 5-minute mark.
It took nearly 2 minutes for the next basket to come and that one did give Cedarburg its first lead of the second half but it didn’t last long.
After Jordan Johnson’s jumper for the Bulldogs, King answered 18 seconds later with one of his own. Central, which shot just 4-for-14 from the free-throw line, would never trail again.
This was the second consecutive trip to state, and 16th in school history, for Central. The Red Raiders did go nine consecutive times in the 1920s, winning it all in 1925 behind coach L.R. Finley.
In 1979, the Red Raiders had a chance at a state title with lineup nicknamed the “Special Ks – Steve Korger, Jim Keeler, Don Kube, Derrick Kroll and Kevin Carroll – but lost to Milwaukee Tech 67-65.
In winning state, King, who is headed to play for the Wisconsin Badgers next season, finished off his high school career averaging 32.3 points in his final three games. He shot a combined 40-for-62 from the field, including a 12-for-23 effort in the Saturday’s championship. He also had nine rebounds for Central.
The Red Raiders finished the game 23-for-49 from the field (46.9%), while Cedarburg shot 19 of 39 (48.7%).
Central outscored the Bulldogs 26-4 in the paint, 14-2 on second-chance points and 13-2 off turnovers.