Neenah has a new kind of momentum as it enters state tournament

    Neenah plays Brookfield Central on Friday in the Division 1 boys basketball state tournament. (WLUK)

    MADISON (WLUK) -- Neenah might've entered the postseason under the radar but after beating rival Kimberly and Hudson in the sectionals the Rockets are in the Division 1 boys state basketball tournament.

    No. 4-seeded Neenah (19-7) plays No. 1 Brookfield Central (21-5) on Friday in a state semifinal at the Kohl Center and it's likely the Rockets will not be overlooked anymore.

    "Going into Madison it shows we're capable of winning games when we're kind of trailing,"said senior Max Klesmit, who scored 30 of his 34 points in the second half of the sectional final. "But it shows we got a lot of effort on this team and we never give up."

    "We beat Kimberly for the first time this year, it was awesome," said senior Sam Dietrich about the sectional semifinal win. "Then came back after Hudson. Just a lot of momentum coming into the tournament and I think we're going to have a good time."

    In Neenah's seven losses, it has been outscored by a combined 26 points with the biggest margin being six points. Coach Lee Rabas said cleaning up just a few plays could've given the Rockets a different record.

    "We just kept talking to the kids about, we're just two or three plays away from possibly being like a two or three loss team," Rabas said. "Let's just try to make two or three less bad plays and maybe like two more good plays every game and we'll be right there.

    "I feel like every time we lost we took something away from it and we felt like we were capable of making a run."

    After recording a 15-7 regular season record, Neenah was seeded fourth in its sectional. The Rockets felt like they had something to prove in the postseason and so far it has.

    "I'd say we have a chip on our shoulder, Klesmit said. "The preseason projections came out and we weren't really near there so that was kind of our goal, let's surprise a few teams, surprise people that haven't been talking about us and ultimately that's what we did."

    And the Rockets hope to keep proving the doubters wrong.


    Semifinals: Friday

    #1 Brookfield Central (21-5) vs #4 Neenah (19-7), 6:35 p.m.

    #2 West Allis Central (22-3) vs #3 Sun Prairie (20-6)

    Championship Game: Saturday, 6:35 p.m.

    Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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