MADISON – For the first time in school history, the Glarner Knights are one win from a state title. New Glarus beat Manitowoc Roncalli 44-41 March 14 in a WIAA Division 4 state semifinal game at the Kohl Center.
“It means the world to me,” Knights senior Zach Feller said. “I feel so blessed to be in this position. Just to be able to go here with my teammates, coach Sysko, my dad (Rudi Feller), who is an assistant coach, and this community – they have been behind us.”
Roncalli, the defending state champion, came into the tournament ranked No. 1 overall with an unblemished 26-0 record. The Jets were known for their shooting ability and length on defense, as well a stealthy game from beyond the arc.
I feel so blessed to be in this position. Just to be able to go here with my teammates, coach Sysko, my dad (Rudi Feller), who is an assistant coach, and this community – they have been behind us.New Glarus senior Zach Feller
The Knights not only game planned, but executed a defensive scheme to almost perfection, holding Roncalli to 12 fewer points than the Jets had scored in any game this season.
“I thought our defense was as good as it’s been all year,” New Glarus coach Travis Sysko said. “We’ve been preaching defense all year. It’s a focal point in practice every night.”
After falling behind by six in the first half, Feller went on an 8-0 run that included a pair of deep 3s to put the Knights up 29-27 with 2:52 left. Throw in the 2-3 zone the Knights switched to with just over six minutes left, and New Glarus kept Roncalli scoreless over the final 4:44 of the half.
“I think it was a momentum shift,” Feller said.
In the second half, Jaden Kreklow took over, scoring 11 points. He scored the go-ahead basket on a putback with 1:11 left and added a clutch free throw to make it a 3-point game with 22 seconds left.
“I think that in that second half they were starting to come out on me a little bit more, and I was able to get into the lane a little bit more and get my shot up,” Kreklow said.
The Knights will play Oshkosh Lourdes (25-1) at about 12:45 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Kohl Center.
For more in-depth analysis of the game and Saturday's championship, see the March 20 edition of the Monroe Times.