Apaches advance to sectional round
By Hub City Times staff
AUBURNDALE – The Auburndale Apaches are headed to the sectional round of the WIAA playoffs for the third straight season, after capturing their 22nd regional championship in the past 35 seasons. The Apaches will play Stratford in a Division 4 sectional semifinal on March 12 at Wausau West High School.
Auburndale used a 29-15 second half to come from behind and defeat Edgar 41-33 in a Division 4 regional final on March 7 at Auburndale High School.
“I thought we just did a fantastic job of persevering,” Auburndale Head Coach Chad Weinfurter said after the win. “We talked during our morning shoot-around that toughness was going to win the game because Edgar is such a tough team. I didn’t think we were very tough for maybe the first 25 minutes of the game, but that last eleven we were the toughest team around. I’d like to give our kids a lot of credit. Dylan Paun played more minutes than he’s played all year. Hunter (Wright) did a great job. Schuyler (Gilhausen) hit a big ‘three’. We knocked free throws down at the end. My game plan (stunk) going to the 2-3 zone to start the game. We go man-to-man, and I thought we played outstanding man-to-man defense — probably the best we’ve played all year.”
The Apaches overcame an 11-point second-half deficit. Edgar had built a six-point halftime lead, taking an 18-12 advantage into the locker room. The Wildcats used a deliberate offense, stingy defense, and great defensive rebounding in the first half to limit Auburndale’s scoring opportunities. Five three-point baskets, including three by Austin Dahlke, didn’t help the Apaches, either.
What the Wildcats didn’t know at the time was that they would score only 15 points the rest of the game. Despite building their lead to eleven in the early stages of the second half, the Wildcats started to struggle offensively, especially when the Apaches switched their defense from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man. Dahlke’s three-point looks became very limited, and Auburndale did a much better job crashing the boards out of the ‘man’ defense to limit Edgar to a lot of one-and-done possessions.
Meanwhile, the Apache offense came to life, oddly enough with their best player on the bench. With senior guard Cooper Weinfurter sidelined with four fouls, Hunter Wright took over the game, scoring eleven of his game-high 14 points in the second half – eight of those points coming off tough shots in the paint. Auburndale also got some solid minutes from Dylan Paun, who also scored five second-half points.
When Weinfurter finally returned to the lineup with just under six minutes remaining, he became a lot more aggressive attacking the rim, and getting fouled, rather than fouling. Weinfurter was 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the second half, and finished with 12 points. Fletcher Raab added six.
The Apaches improved to 20-4 with the win. Two of those losses came against an unbeaten Stratford team Auburndale will face in the sectional semifinal round of the playoffs. The Apaches suffered their first loss of the season when they got beat by the Tigers 61-34 on January 3 in Stratford. The Apaches lost the rematch 57-38 February 21 in Auburndale. They have not lost since.