KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT
SOMERS — Listening to Shoreland Lutheran boys basketball coach Paul Strutz say, “I thought the kids played well,” after a 21-point loss Thursday might make your eyebrows furrow.
You might accuse Strutz of wearing rose-colored glasses, or perhaps trying to use reverse psychology to motivate his team.
Thing is, Strutz was right.
The Pacers did play well, but they simply fell victim to the outrageously talented Duane Wilson, Diamond Stone and top-ranked Whitefish Bay Dominican.
After spotting the Knights a 13-0 lead, Shoreland — led by Adam Freitag’s 18 points and three assists — scratched and clawed to stay in the game, but Dominican ultimately made all the plays it needed to remain unbeaten in the Metro Classic Conference with a 70-49 win at Shoreland.
“We’re really excited where we’re at,” Strutz said despite the loss that dropped his team to 9-5 overall and 6-4 in the Metro Classic. “I’m having a blast. It’s a fun, fun group of kids. I’m excited for the second go-around in the conference. It’s gonna be harder, but it’s gonna be fun.”
What isn’t fun is dealing with the talents of the senior guard Wilson and the 6-foot-9 sophomore big man Stone.
Wilson, a Marquette recruit, totaled 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“He’s so explosive that when he wants to, he can get to the rim,” Strutz said.
Stone, whose recruiting list is a who’s-who of college hoops power brokers, had a game-high 23 points to go along with eight boards and five blocks.
Dominican (10-3, 7-0) also got contributions from others, as Chris Topp drained four 3-pointers over Shoreland’s zone defense and Jaylin Daniels and Kenny Wolfe provided suffocating perimeter defense.
Still, despite being down 22-5 after the first quarter, the Pacers, who got 11 points and six rebounds by Jake Anderson, had the lead cut to 32-20 by halftime when Freitag hit a pull-up jumper just before the buzzer.
Freitag then scored eight points in the third quarter, including a tough 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 47-35 with 1 minute, 5 seconds left in the third.
“He has become a much better creator for other kids, which he wasn’t last year,” Strutz said of Freitag. “So now he’s not only a threat by himself, but he’s also made other guys better because of him. If a kid’s really a solid basketball player, you do that.”
But with Stone sitting due to three fouls, Wilson took over with ease, swishing a 3 from the top of the key to push the Knights’ lead back to 50-35. Wilson had seven points in the third, including a spectacular drive that resulted in a left-handed dunk rarely seen at this level.
Wilson found Stone for an alley-oop dunk in the fourth quarter, as it became evident that Shoreland’s grit wouldn’t overcome Dominican’s talent.
“Shoreland’s a really good team,” said Dominican coach Derek Berger, whose team was ranked No. 1 in the latest WisSports.net Division-4 poll. “They’re tough. They’ve got guys that can make some shots. They’re physical. They’re well-coached.”