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Wisconsin evens up all-time record with 5-1 Border Battle win

01/29/2012, 1:11pm CST
By Mark Miller

Observations from the sixth annual Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Border Battle held Saturday at Sun Prairie High School:

Sun Prairie (WI) 61, DeLaSalle (MN) 35

The single most impressive individual performance of the Border Battle was turned in by Sun Prairie junior Nick Fuller (pictured at left).

A 6-foot-6 wing player who is ranked No. 7 among class of 2013 prospects in Wisconsin by, Fuller scored 33 points to lead the Cardinals to an absolutely dominating and somewhat unexpected victory over Minneapolis DeLaSalle.

With Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard and Milwaukee assistant Chad Boudreau watching, Fuller turned in a truly sparkling performance, scoring from three-point range, in transition, with either hand around the basket and above the rim.

His size and skill package have long intrigued NCAA Division I coaches and his play against DeLaSalle certainly cemented his status as an outstanding collegiate prospect, especially when you consider he won’t turn 18 until after his senior season.

“Nick will play his entire senior year at 17 years of age,” Sun Prairie coach Jeff Boos said. “I’m trying to get a hardship year for one more year with us.

“The thing with Nick, he is capable of doing what he did tonight every night. The hardest thing at any level is doing it with consistency. That’s that next step in his progression.”

Fuller’s length and great anticipation on the top of Sun Prairie’s 1-3-1 zone defense created problems for DeLaSalle (12-4) all night. With strong support from teammates Nick Noskowiak, Martin Cromwell, Andre Wallace and Ryan Yentz, Fuller and Co. simply overwhelmed the Islanders, taking a 22-8 lead after the first period and never looking back.

It was a welcome sign for Boos and his coaching staff coming off a difficult 60-50 loss to Big Eight Conference rival Madison Memorial on Friday.

“There are always going to be bumps in the road,” said Boos, whose club improved to 12-6 on the year. “The game against Memorial was not a good performance by our guys by any means. But I thought we bounced back tonight. We did a better job of keeping them off the glass.”

DeLaSalle got a team-high 10 points from junior Luke Scott (6-2), but highly regarded sophomore Reid Travis (6-6) went scoreless.

Waunakee (WI) 66, Oakdale Tartan (MN) 65

The best team performance of the Border Battle was turned in by Waunakee, which rallied to defeat a very good Oakdale Tartan squad. 

The biggest single reason for the resurgence of Waunakee (13-2), which has won seven in a row, has been the healthy return of senior Joe Tagarelli (pictured at left), a physical 6-6 forward who finishes around the basket about as well as any other big man in the state.

Tagarelli missed three games around the Christmas break due to an injury, but he has come back with a vengeance, averaging 21.4 points per game during the Warriors’ winning streak.

Ranked No. 45 among seniors in Wisconsin by, Tagarelli recently accepted a preferred walkon opportunity at Milwaukee and his play of late gives every indication he could very well be a big factor for coach Rob Jeter over the next four years.

Tagarelli’s two free throws with just five seconds left provided the winning margin for Waunakee, which rallied from a 22-14 deficit after the first period. 

“The guys ran a good set to get Joe open,” MacKenzie said. “He’s got the best feet around the basket that I’ve seen in a while.

“Since Jan. 6, we’ve really started to come around. We new it would take some time with all of our guys stepping into new roles, but they are now playing with a lot of confidence.”

In addition to Tagarelli’s 19 points, Waunakee received a big boost from junior Will Decorah, an ever-improving and physically tough 6-4 wing player who scored 23 points for the Warriors.

Decorah finished with a pair of three-point baskets while also knocking down 11-of-12 attempts from the foul line.

“Will had a heck of a game,” MacKenzie said. “He and Tagarelli are our go-to players on offense.”

MacKenzie was also extremely pleased with the play of junior reserve Ryan Kruser (5-11), who scored seven points.

“Kruser got his first big varsity minutes and he really stepped up for us,” MacKenzie said.

Tartan (14-5) got solid performance from its extremely talented backcourt due of junior Darrion Strong (6-0) and freshman Marshawn Wilson (6-0).

Strong finished with 20 points and was unstoppable at times on offense, while the highly impressive Wilson came off the bench to score all 15 of his points in the second half.

Wisconsin Dells (WI) 61, Maple River (MN) 47

Wisconsin Dells junior M.J. Delmore (5-10, pictured at left) isn’t the biggest guy on the court, but his solid all-around play is always huge for the Chiefs, who slowly but surely put away Maple River in the opening game of the Border Battle.

With leading scorer Shane Wimann (6-4) saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, Delmore stepped up big for Wisconsin Dells, scoring a career-high 28 points to fuel the Chiefs’ ninth straight victory.

A three-year varsity performance and returning first-team all-South Central Conference performer, Delmore sliced his way through the Maple River defense, scoring off of drives to the basket and from distance. He finished with three baskets from three-point range and went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.

“Our guys did a nice job of finding M.J.,” Wisconsin Dells coach Brad Rohling said. “Our kids always do a nice job of sharing the ball.

“M.J. hit some three-point shots, got into the lane and got to the free-throw line. His ball-handling skills are second to none and that is due to a lot of hard work since he was very young.”

Wimann used his physical strength and athleticism to score 17 points for Wisconsin Dells, which improved to 15-1 and looks very much like a title contender among WIAA Division 3 schools.

The Chiefs’ trapping 1-2-2 defense gave Maple River fits all game and led to several transition baskets. 

“I am proud of our guys,” Rohling said. “Trevor Hirst and Fabian Houghton came in when Shane was in foul trouble and got the rebounds that Shane usually gets.

“Our 1-2-2 ball press puts a lot of pressure on people. We are outsized almost every night so this defense helps us. Our kids play it hard and it’s been our main defense all year.” 

Maple River (17-3) got five three-pointers and 17 points from senior Clark Minks (6-1) and 14 points from senior Josiah Breiter (6-4).

Grand Rapids (MN) 71, Beaver Dam (WI) 65, 3 OT

In perhaps the most entertaining game of the Border Battle, Grand Rapids turned back a determined Beaver Dam squad in triple overtime behind 26 points from senior point guard Austin Pohlen (6-1).

Beaver Dam (14-4) was coming off a disappointing 52-51 loss to West Bend East the night before, but coach Tim Ladron was more than pleased with what he saw against a Grand Rapids team that features a pair of 6-8 post players.

“We played awfully hard,” Ladron said. “To get defensive stops at the end of regulation and the first overtime … our kids sho

Tag(s): Border Battle