MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) – In a WIAA Boys State Tournament that has already featured nearly everything fans could ask or hope for, one thing was missing: an overtime classic.
You can now add that to the list.
The Milwaukee Washington Purgolders came back from a 14-point second half deficit to edge the La Crosse Central Red Raiders, 72-71, in a D2 State Semifinal for the ages.
The best player for much of the game was Central junior swingman Johnny Davis. Davis scored 14 points in the first half, including a two-handed alley-oop finish to put Central up 19-12 early on.
Central led 21-14 with 6:45 in half.
Milwaukee Washington’s Johntae Martin would hit back-to-back threes minutes later to cut the Central lead to 23-20. He had 11 points in the opening half, as the Purgolders trailed the Red Raiders 34-26 at the break.
Central picked up right where they left off to start the second half. A Terrance Thompson jumper gave Central their largest lead of the game, a 42-28 advantage with 15 minutes to go.
Milwaukee Wisconsin’s Deontay Long’s first points of the game came with 14:41 left in regulation on a pair of free throws to make it 42-30. Long entered the contest averaging nearly 21 points per contest, and finished with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Davis wasn’t done in the second half himself, driving the lane for an acrobatic layup despite being blanketed by Milwaukee Washington’s Michael Foster, Jr. On the ensuing possession, Davis swatted a Foster layup attempt into the stands.
Enter sophomore guard Chianti Clay, Jr., who hit back-to-back threes to bring the Purgolders within eight at 44-36, with 13 minutes to play. A Remon Blakely trifecta would cut the Central lead to just five before Davis responded with a bucket of his own for the Red Raiders.
Moments later, Clay buried another three to cut the Central lead to 48-42. A Koriayon McKay layup brought the Purgolders within four with 9:49 to go.
The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes, capped by another Blakely three to cut the Central lead to 55-53 with a little over six minutes left in regulation. Less than a minute later, Martin would tie the game at 55 on a layup.
For all their work to get back in the game, Milwaukee Wisconsin suffered two blows on the same play: not only did a Thompson jam put Central back up by a deuce, Blakely also suffered a shoulder injury while attempting to intercept a pass. He would not return.
The Purgolders, would retake the lead on yet another Clay triple with four minutes to go. Then, Central guard Noah Parcher hit one of several big buckets for the Red Raiders, a baseline jumper to make it 59-58 with three minutes to play.
Then, it got crazy.
A pair of free throws by Long gave Milwaukee Washington a 60-59 lead with 58.1 seconds remaining. Central then withstood a near-disaster when Jordan Davis missed a breakaway layup after a Central steal; luckily, Parcher was able to make a putback to make the score 61-60 Central.
On the ensuing possession, Long converted on a putback attempt with 15.1 seconds left to put the Purgolders up 62-61. They would get the ball back seconds later, and Cruz Valeriano made one of two free throws to make it 63-61, Purgolders, with 10.7 seconds left.
Central’s last chance in regulation came with a Davis drive, on which he would be fouled while nearly making the layup anyway. Johnny Davis hit both free throws to tie the game at 63 with four seconds left. A tightly-contested Long three-point attempt to win for the Purgolders hit the top of the backboard, forcing overtime.
In the extra session, Tre White and Michael Foster scored buckets to put Milwaukee Washington up 67-63. Central would respond with some heady defense from Davis, who knocked a Purgolder inbounds attempt back into the hands of the inbounder, forcing a turnover.
Parcher, who finished with 16 points, then hit another three on the following possession to make it a one-point game. After a couple steals and numerous scoring opportunities for Central, a Parcher putback would put the Raiders up, 68-67.
Central looked to seal the deal when Johnny Davis’ touchdown-like pass found an open David Hayden (12 points), who converted a layup while being fouled to give the Raiders a 71-67 lead with 32 seconds left.
Michael Foster, Jr., however, had other plans.
On the ensuing Purgolder possession, Foster hit a clutch three to cut the Central lead to 71-70. Then, in a situation where Milwaukee Washington had to foul, Central’s Hayden waited in the corner as defenders converged. Once they drew near, Hayden drove to the basket and attempted a layup that was rejected — by Foster.
Valeriano was able to corrall the rebound with six seconds left before finding Foster, who hit the go-ahead sideline jumper to put the Purgolders up 72-71 with 3.9 seconds left.
A game-winnning three point try by Davis, who finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, hit the glass before bouncing off the front of the rim as the horn sounded, capping off a stunning turn of events as Milwaukke Washington survivred in an all-time great contest.
Foster finished with 14 points for Milwaukee Washington. Johntae Martin added 15 and Chianti Clay added 12 for the Purgolders, who also got nine points from Remon Blakely.
Terrance Thompson finished just shy of a double-double for Central, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds to go with four blocks.
The Purgolders will face top-seeded Nicolet Saturday at 6:35 p.m. in a tantalizing, much-anticipated matchup.