Xavier leaves no doubt, wins first WIAA state title
MADISON (WLUK) -- Xavier entered Saturday's state title game a driven team after coming up short the previous two years in the season's final game and after a slow start the Hawks left no doubt which team was the best in Division 3 this season.
Fueled by a 35-14 run that ended the first half and started the second, Xavier dominated Prescott, 73-47, to win its first WIAA state title at the Kohl Center.
"This team was just driven in a way that I've never seen," Xavier coach Matt Klarner said. "I think part of it came from our leaders, part of it came from being really really close last year to that dream you have your entire life and not getting it.
"I think all those things combined just pushed us to a new level."
Xavier (28-0) had its biggest challenge of the season, or tallest, in dealing with 7-1 center Owen Hamilton, who's headed to Northern Illinois. The thought was the Hawks couldn't win inside and would have to win from the perimeter, but as it turned out that wasn't the case.
Xavier was just 4 for 22 from beyond the arc (18 percent), but it didn't matter. The likes of Hunter Plamann (29 points), Nate DeYoung (18 points, 18 rebounds) and Sam Ferris (17 points) helped Xavier to a shocking 50-28 advantage in points in the paint.
Plamann, especially, continued to challenge Hamilton (21 points, 16 rebounds), who eventually fouled out.
Plamann's determination inside defined Xavier's focus all game.
"Last year and the year before that it was just hard; last year we lost by one point and this year we won by (26) and it just feels amazing," DeYoung said. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet but I'm sure once we get back to Appleton it will feel pretty good."
Plamann started slow, not scoring until free throws with 8:03 left in the first half, but the junior showed why he's one of the best guards in the state. He was 11 of 21 from the field, had seven assists and six rebounds, which led to a big smile after the game.
"Pretty cool this year," Plamann said. "After last year I wrote down two main goals for myself and won was 28-0 and the other was being a state champion, so it's pretty cool accomplishing both of those."
With Plamann, Ferris and DeYoung returning next season the Hawks will be a favorite to win a state title ion 2018.
When asked if goals for next season will be similar, Plamann smiled and said, "Yeah, pretty similar; probably the same thing. That's my goal."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay