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By Rob Reischel
Sports Editor 

Aquinas ends Vanguards' year


March 8, 2018


Wisconsin Heights' boys basketball team

Their regular season was extremely memorable.

Wisconsin Heights' boys basketball team won 17 games this winter, its most in eight seasons.

So naturally, the Vanguards believed the postseason could be equally rewarding.

It wasn't.

Visiting La Crosse Aquinas came to Heights last Friday and toppled the Vanguards, 73-67, in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal. The third-seeded Vanguards ended the year 17-6, while sixth-seeded Aquinas is still alive following a 57-37 rout of Luther in the regional finals.

"I agree overall the season was memorable," Heights coach Zack Colby said. "But I think we're all disappointed to lose our first playoff game, even against a team of Aquinas' caliber. 

"You certainly can't take anything away from them, though, as there is a reason they are playing this Thursday. They are a tough matchup for anyone."

Grady Geishirt hit three three-pointers and led the Vanguards with 21 points, while Shavran Parman added 15 points on five three-pointers.

Aquinas got five three-pointers and 30 points from junior guard Brandon Merfeld, 18 points from 6-foot-6 senior Randy Jacobson and 17 from senior guard Conley Malone.

The Vanguards struggled shooting the ball in the first half and trailed 32-23 at halftime.

"Overall, I didn't feel like at the time we were playing that poorly," Colby said. "We got going pretty early in the second half, though, and chipped away at their lead."

They sure did.

Parman, who was held scoreless in the first half, made all of his three-pointers in the second half. And by the midway point of the second half, the Vanguards had made it a one-possession game.

"It was a back and forth grind nearly the whole time during the last 10 minutes," Colby said.

Aquinas prevailed, though, thanks in large part to free throw shooting.

Aquinas got into the bonus early in the second half and made a living at the line, shooting 26-of-32 overall (81.3%). Heights, meanwhile, went just 4-of-8 from the line.

"We got into foul trouble early in the second half which didn't help our case either, as they seemed to be in the bonus before we could even blink," Colby said.

Despite the loss, Heights exceeded all expectations this year. And for the second straight season under Colby, the Vanguards accomplished far more than many believed was possible.

"For two straight years, no one gives us any credit so we will keep playing that role and letting it motivate us 100%," Colby said. "Our guys have a great work ethic and that alone helps them be successful. 

"As cliché as it is, there truly is no substitute for hard work. I appreciate very much how hard they worked for me this season and it deserves recognition."

The Vanguards lose a terrific, eight-person senior class. But Colby expects the Vanguards to bring back a solid nucleus that can once again challenge in the Southern Capitol Conference.

"We still have a core group of six returners, including two starters, who will lead us next year," Colby said. "I wouldn't anticipate quite the depth we had this season coming off the bench, but I am confident we will reload and hopefully pick up right where we left off."

Colby said the time between now and November when next season begins will be key for many of the Vanguards. 

"Truthfully, it's not about what they do this summer. It's about what they do these next eight months," he said. "Successful programs all start with players who commit to getting a ball in their hands all year long. Everyone needs to improve, including myself, if Heights is going to do some damage in the postseason when it matters most."

March 2

WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal


Grady Geishirt (above) scored 21 points, but it wasn't enough to lift Wisconsin Heights' boys basketball team past LaCrosse Aquinas.

LA CROSSE AQUINAS 73, Wisconsin Heights 67

La Crosse Aquinas ....... 32 41 - 73

Wisconsin Heights ........ 23 44 - 67

LA CROSSE AQUINAS - Savoldelli 1 1-2 3, Malone 4 10-12 18, Wetzel 0 1-2 1, Merfeld 8 10-11 31, Jacobson 8 2-2 18, Johnson 0 2-2 2, Lee 0 1-2 1. Totals 21 26-33 73.

Wisconsin Heights - Wolfe 3 1-1 9, Geishirt 1 0-1 2, Hughes 1 2-2 5, Geishirt 9 0-0 21, Ayala 2 1-3 5, Caminiti 3 0-0 6, Parman 5 0-0 15, Brown 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 4-7 67.

3-point goals - LCA 5 (Merfeld 5), WH 11 (Wolfe 2, Hughes 1, Geishirt 3, Parman 5). Total fouls - LCA 15, WH 23. Fouled out - Caminiti, Savoldelli.


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