Boys hoops: Wausau East survives Medford's second half rally

Medford's Jake Sullivan beats Wausau East's Thomas Dunbar to a loose ball in the second half of Thursday's sectional game in Merrill. BRYAN WEGTER/THE STAR NEWSMedford's Cam Wenzel reacts after Wausau East held on to beat the Raiders in Thursday's sectional semifinal in Merrill. BRYAN WEGTER/THE STAR NEWS

Medford’s bid for a third straight come-from-behind playoff win fell short Thursday night.

Wausau East nearly let a double digit lead slip away, but the Lumberjacks held on to beat the Medford Raiders 51-49 in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal in Merrill.

The Lumberjacks also defeated the Raiders by two, 69-67, in a regular season meeting on Feb. 11 at Medford.

Wausau East (17-7) advances to face La Crosse Central in a sectional final on Saturday in Stevens Point. The winner punches its ticket to the state tournament.

Medford (20-5), only a few days removed from a miraculous win over Hortonville to clinch its first regional title since 2008, had a five-game winning streak snapped.

Osy Ekwueme scored 19 points to lead the Raiders in the final game of his superb high school career. Fellow senior Jake Sullivan chipped in 15 points.

Medford opened up a 10-3 lead in the first half, only to watch East reverse that deficit and go up 23-16. A coast-to-coast steal and layup by Sullivan and a tough inside finish by Ekwueme pulled the Raiders even, 25-25, just before halftime.

East opened the second half on a 13-0 run - while Medford missed its first eight field goals of the second half - and made enough free throws down the stretch to survive.

Thomas Dunbar scored 19 points and Michael LaPree added 15 points for the Lumberjacks.

For an expanded game story and more coverage of the Medford boys basketball team, pick up next Thursday's edition of The Star News.

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