MENASHA — D.J. DeValk did what he could and at times he was unstoppable.
But asking one player to win a sectional final is quite a tall order and Little Chute found that out Saturday.
DeValk scored a career-high 36 points, but Roncalli’s balanced offense and outside shooting was too much as the Jets defeated Little Chute, 65-50, in a Division 3 boys basketball sectional final. This is the Jets fifth trip to state since 2005 and first since 2009.
“It’s unbelievable,” senior Nick Stelzer said. “I can’t describe it. It’s so sweet. Losing in football the last game before state, just thinking about that. I didn’t want that feeling again.”
Early on the Jets were felling woozy from trying to stop DeValk. The point guard did what he wanted to, scoring from beyond the arc, on drives and pull-up jumpers. After one quarter, Little Chute led, 14-11, and DeValk scored all the points for the Mustangs.
“D.J. DeValk is so good,” Roncalli coach Joe Rux said. “It really made it hard to earn the victory. Early on he was torching us.”
The second quarter, however, proved to be the difference. The Jets don’t have a player of DeValk’s caliber, but they have a number of players who can shoot, and, boy, did they shoot. Roncalli (25-1), the Olympian Conference champ, outscored the Mustangs (17-9), 25-12, to open a 36-26 halftime lead.
“It was real big to come out and play that well,” Rux said. “Our guards shot the ball real well. We found a way to get into their zone. That was probably the separating factor in the game because it was even after that.”
Roncalli never surrendered the lead in the second half but Little Chute did close the gap to 44-39 in the fourth quarter. Roncalli then outscored the Mustangs, 16-6, to finish the game.
Roncalli next plays Brown Deer on Friday at 9:05 a.m. at the Kohl Center in a state semifinal. Rux said his team got to this point by following a simple plan.
“One at a time,” he said. “Obviously state has the best of the best. We’ll just enjoy this tonight and see what happens after that.”
After th final second ticked off the clock the fans spilled onto the court to celebrate with the Jets. Stelzer said it was a great feeling.
“Its unbelievebale coming out here and having all these people support you,” he said. “It’s sweet to see the student section and every shot you hit they go crazy. It’s just insane.”
The Jets are two wins away from winning their first WIAA state title. In fact, the Jets have never won a game at state, but they feel good.
“(We’re) pretty confident,” Stelzer said. “We feel we can beat any team in the state. We just have to work hard this next week.”
Rux said it hasn’t always been easy this season despite the record. He thinks his seven seniors have been a key.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity with injuries this year and having guys out of the lineup,” Rux said. “Our senior leadership has been so good. It’s good to see the kids overcome adversity.”
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay