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Redbirds roll past Knights, move one step closer to state
EVANSVILLE - For the second straight year, the Darlington boys basketball team is knocking at the door for state after the Redbirds toppled New Glarus 73-59 in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal game Thursday.

Darlington (25-0), ranked second in the Associated Press Division 4 state poll, scored its second win this season over New Glarus, the Capitol South Conference champion. Darlington will play Cochrane- Fountain City (24-1) in a sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Baraboo High School.

La Crosse Aquinas edged the Redbirds 50-49 in a sectional final last season.

Darlington coach Tom Uppena is just proud to see the Redbirds get another opportunity in a sectional title game.

"It's exciting for all of the kids," Uppena said. "It's something they have worked really hard for. To get one more chance to get back to the Kohl Center and have the kids respond and have a chance to get to Madison is great for these players."

The Redbirds built a 19-7 lead, fueled by senior Chad Golackson's 3-pointer. Seniors Trevor Johnson and Ryan Glendenning also had layups during the spurt.

Senior Hunter Johnson, his cousin Trevor Johnson, and Glendenning each scored a team-high 15 points. Senior Will Schwartz added 14 points.

New Glarus (20-5) didn't go away quietly. New Glarus sophomore Zach Feller drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Redbirds' lead to 19-10 with 8 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first half. The Knights got as close as four points in the first half.

Darlington's Brayden McDonald hit a 3-pointer with 4:47 to go to give the Redbirds a 32-19 lead. Kreklow answered by knocking down a 3-pointer. The Redbirds led by as many as 14 points in the first half.

Feller drilled a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to trim the Redbirds' lead to 38-29 at the break.

"When you have a lot of firepower like they do, and they can shoot the 3-pointer, it's hard to stop because they can score a lot of points on offense quickly," Uppena said. "They are also very good inside."

The Redbirds maintained their double-digit lead for most of the second half, although the Knights were within seven points at one time. New Glarus was hampered when Kreklow picked up his fourth foul with 7:57 left in the game.

Glendenning hit two free throws to give the Redbirds their largest lead at 18 points, 71-53, with 2:24 to go.

Kreklow scored a team-high 17 points for the Knights. Junior teammate Culklen Brooks and Feller each added 12 points and sophomore Trevor Gassman chipped in 11 points.

Now, Darlington can focus on preparing for Cochrane-Fountain City on Saturday.

Uppena has seen a couple games Cochrane-Fountain City has played on film.

"They are a lot like us," he said. "They have four or five guys who average between 10 and 14 points. They will present a challenge for us."