WRIGHTSTOWN, Wis. (WFRV) – No one ever wants to think of a game as the last one you play. Seasons certainly come to a close and many end before a team is ready. But the 2019 season came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many high school boys basketball teams, it left a unfinished taste in the mouths of the players who didn’t even get to start the state basketball tournament.
For the Wrightstown boys basketball team, the need to make it to state was overwhelming.
“I mean given last year when we made it to the sectional finals and we were projected to win, but we didn’t get a chance to prove ourselves as a state team last year, it just really added on the importance to us seniors that were part of the team last year that this is the year we really need to make it, ” Wrightstown senior Matthew Hansen said.
The history of state tournament success runs deep at Wrightstown High, in just about every sport. It wasn’t until this year, 2021, that the boys basketball team was able to add their mark on that exalted history.
“Been doing this a long, long time, and we’ve had other programs have a lot of success, just boys basketball hasn’t,” Wrightstown head basketball coach Cory Haese said. ” Just seeing the joy in our 15 kids’ eyes just gets me a little choked up.”
The Tigers won the sectional final that launched them into the state tournament and it was with a few familiar faces in the stands this time.. those seniors whose season ended so abruptly last year.
“Oh it was very fun. Going into it, we hadn’t won a sectional final in school history and we knew the whole community was behind us and all the players that have played for Wrightstown were cheering for us and watching us on TV, so it was very exciting to finally get a shot at a sectional final when we couldn’t last year,” Wrightstown senior Sam Haese said.
They’ve got a big hurdle ahead of them with a matchup against Racine Saint Catherine’s, but the Tigers remain confident.
“We won our sectional final, that’s what we really wanted to do, but we’re not done yet,” the younger Haese said. ” We want to put a banner up on the wall that says state champ instead of just having a banner over there that says state qualifier.”
The Tigers face off against Racine Saint Catherine’s Friday, March 5 at 10:45 a.m. at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh.