Jays win again with tough inside game, late execution

Rib Lake’s Levi Ewan finds heavy traffic on this trip through the lane in the first half of Saturday’s WIAA Division 5 regional final with Cameron Ford (45), Seth Coker (r.) and others from Athens trying to stop him. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsRib Lake’s Zane Schreiner tries to drive past Athens center Cameron Ford late in Saturday’s first half. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsA potential offensive rebound gets away from Rib Lake’s Alex Patrick during the first half of Friday’s 54-44 win over Owen-Withee in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal contest. Photo by Donald Watson/The Star News

The difference between a good season and a great season for the Rib Lake boys basketball team, it can be argued, came down to two factors.
The Redmen were just 3-6 in games decided by single digits, most of which came against high-quality teams. But, maybe most importantly, they never found a way to beat their rivals to the south, the Athens Blue Jays.
Both factors came into play in Saturday’s WIAA Division 5 regional final when a 38-35 lead with six minutes to play vanished on a 6-0, 90-second run by the Blue Jays that turned the game for good in a 50-43 Athens win. The fifth-seeded Blue Jays won, amazingly, their first-ever WIAA boys basketball regional title and won all three games they played against Rib Lake this season, including this one and a tense double-overtime game in Rib Lake on Jan. 11.
Two regular-season losses to Athens prevented Rib Lake from repeating as Marawood North champions, but a regional final win Saturday for the second straight year would’ve made up for that. Instead, with both teams currently at 16-8 overall, the top-seeded Redmen are done, while the Jays are facing second-seeded McDonell Catholic Central (16-9) in a sectional semifinal tonight, Thursday, at Eau Claire Memorial.
For the full story, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of The Star News.

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