Medenwaldt's clutch three caps stunning rally for Oak Creek

Oak Creek's Alex Medenwaldt (22) drives between Greenfield's Keagan Blanks (left) and Josh Czerwinski (32) during the first half of the varsity teams game in Greenfield High School Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Greenfield, Wis.

Oak Creek's Alex Medenwaldt (22) drives between Greenfield's Keagan Blanks (left) and Josh Czerwinski (32) during the first half of the varsity teams game in Greenfield High School Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Greenfield, Wis. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Feb. 25, 2014

The shot wasn't supposed to go to senior Oak Creek guard Alex Medenwaldt.

"The play was designed for a drive and kick to Harrison (Cleary)," said Medenwaldt, "but they had that covered so I took it."

That particular shot came just moments after the host Greenfield boys basketball team had missed what could have been a clinching front-end of a bonus situation with about four seconds left in a WIAA regional quarterfinal game Tuesday night.

Medenwaldt went up the court as fast as he could and released the desperation 3-point shot from the right wing, and it swished at the buzzer, knotting the score at 40-all.

"It was a long shot," said Medenwaldt, "but my teammates gave me the confidence that I could hit it. I'm just glad they gave me that shot."

When the Knights' Macen Leonardi hit a three and then a two to open the overtime sessions, Oak Creek never trailed again and came away with a remarkable 57-47 playoff win.

Medenwaldt, as it turned out, would hit one shot after another, finishing with 27 points, including 12 of 13 free throws.

The tie he created at the end of regulation was the first in the game, and when Leonardi hit his opening trey in the OT, that was the first time Oak Creek had led all night.

Even Oak Creek coah Mike Jossie was stunned.

"It was a heck of a shot, and I give all the credit in the world to a senior (Medenwaldt)," he said with a laugh. "I had nothing to do with it."

With the win, the Knights improved to 6-16 and advanced to a regional semifinal at Southeast Conference champion Racine Case on Friday.

Hustlin' Hawks coach Jack Miller was stunned at the outcome. His team had taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Using a relentless, switching man defense, Greenfield held the Knights at arm's length all night right until the time of Medenwaldt's shot.

"I've seen those kind of games on TV, where a team leads right until the end and then loses," he said, "but I've never been involved in one where you lead for 31 minutes and 59 seconds (a regulation game is 32 minutes), and then it happens to you."

Miller expressed disappointment in himself. The score was 40-37 when his man was at the line for the potential clinching free throw.

"I called one of my guys over and I was just about to tell him that if we miss (on the foul line), make sure you foul on the way up the court (so Oak Creek can't get off the 3-point shot)," he said. "But I went against my own philosophy; I didn't tell him to do that. It breaks your heart, but give credit to Oak Creek, they never gave up."

Greenfield, which had rallied itself to a win from an early 15-3 deficit against Oak Creek in a regular season game last week, finished at 8-15.

Miller had reason to be frustrated.

His team led 7-4 at the quarter as Oak Creek didn't score until two Cleary free throws with just over two minutes left in the first period. It was 17-11 at the half, and though the Knights closed the deficit to 18-17 early in the third quarter and twice had it down to two in the period, Greenfield never gave up the lead, taking a 27-23 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Oak Creek continued pushing in the fourth quarter, closing to 2 points early on only to have the Hawks' Josh Czerwinski and Ben Fularczyk hit big threes to push the advantage back up to 33-27 with 5:16 to go.

It was still 35-29 with 3:50 left. Leonardi hit two free throws to make it 35-33 with 2:36 remaining, but then Hawks guard Marcus Myers cashed a layup to make it 37-33 with just 55 seconds to go.

Medenwaldt hit a shot to make it 37-35 with 48 seconds left, but when Czerwinski hit two free throws with just 15 ticks left on the clock, it was a seemingly insurmountable 40-35 lead for Greenfield.

Not so fast.

Oak Creek point guard Cordarius Johnson hit a layup with five seconds to go to make it 50-47. Johnson then fouled out a moment later. It was his foul that set up the last second dramatics, as the subsequent free throw was missed and Medenwaldt made his way up the court.

"To be perfectly honest, we didn't do a very good job of guarding that play," said Miller. "We gave him a straight line, didn't try to turn him, which would have made it a much tougher shot."

After the shot, Medenwaldt bounced like a pogo stick and was mobbed by his teammates.

The Knights used that momentum to great advantage taking that early lead in the OT and never relinquishing it. After Leonardi's first two shot shots in the OT, Greenfield's Jeremy Swider hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 45-42

But then the Knights' Tristan Garivay hit a short baseline shot to start a 6-0 run that would make the gap an insurmountable 51-42 with just 57 seconds left.

All told, the Knights would hit 10 of 12 free throws in the overtime session and 21 of 24 for the game while Greenfield was just seven of 11.

The Hustlin' Hawks were led by Czerwinski with 14, while Marcus Myers had 11 and Swider eight.

"Give credit to Oak Creek, they had a great desire to win," said Miller.

Leonardi with 11 and Cleary with eight backed up Medenwalt's big game.

"I feel bad for Jack (Miller) and his kids, because we've been on the wrong side of a couple of those this year ourselves," said Jossie, "...but we didn't quit until the end. It was almost a reverse of last week's game, except then they put us away early in the fourth quarter.

"It was funny, in my (pre-game) speech, I told the kids that we'd have to play 1,920 seconds (the length of a regulation game) to get a win tonight. Now I'm going to have to recalibrate that. What a great team win."

"What a great way to start my senior year playoffs," added Medenwaldt.

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