MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – For years, the Neenah boys basketball team has been a proud program on the doorstep of dominance.
Since 2010, the Rockets have been to state four times. In 2014, they lost a tough battle with Germantown for the gold ball.
But after Saturday’s win, Neenah can stand alone at the top of the state rankings to close out the 2022 season.
Neenah forced the issue out of the gates and never looked back in a 64-52 win over Brookfield Center, capturing the Rockets’ first state title since 1978.
Four players scored in double figures for the champs, with senior Chevalier Emery Jr. leading the way with 19 points in his last game donning the red jersey.
Carter Thomas added 15 and Brady Corso tacked on 10, while JJ Paider continued his dominance in the post with 14 points and a whopping 18 rebounds.
The Rockets withstood a scoring barrage from Lancers star Andrew Rohde, who scored 18 of Central’s 22 points in the first half. He finished with 34 for the game to go with eight rebounds.
Neenah finished the season on a 27-game win streak, a program record, after dropping the third game of the season to Appleton East.
The Rockets exacted revenge on the Patriots later in the season and went on to capture the FVA title, parlaying the regular season success into a memorable postseason run.
After rolling through regionals with wins against Oshkosh West and Appleton North, Neenah faced the team that challenged it the most this season – Kimberly. It took a go-ahead, buzzer-beating three-pointer by Emery in the sectional semifinal to keep the Rockets’ hopes alive.
Two days later, Neenah coasted by Eau Claire Memorial – another top five team – in the sectional final, clinching the Rockets’ return to state for the first time in three years.
NHS survived a late comeback by Racine Case to hold on for a single-digit win in the state semifinals, and Saturday, the Rockets controlled the game from early on against Brookfield Central to capture the Division 1 state crown.
Neenah will host celebrations for the champs Sunday at the school, beginning with a fire truck brigade at 12:45 p.m. and a gathering in the cafeteria at 1:00.