Jared Kreklow photo

New Glarus’ Jaden Kreklow runs out the clock in the win over Oshkosh Lourdes in the Division 4 title game Saturday at the Kohl Center.

How fitting that New Glarus senior Jaden Kreklow had the ball in his hands as the final 5.6 seconds ticked away Saturday.

The 5-foot-10 guard dribbled past a defender in the back court, circled and darted to half court, heaving the basketball toward the scoreboard high above at the Kohl Center.

Kreklow rejoiced in the New Glarus program’s first state title in boys basketball in its first finals appearance — the end to a memorable journey that came 87 years after the Glarner Knights’ previous trip to the state tournament.

“That was quite a moment,” Kreklow said. “It’s incredible to even come here, let alone win the championship. I’m just so grateful that we were able to come this far and do what we’ve done.”

Kreklow scored a game-high 22 points and dished out four assists while leading fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked New Glarus to a 67-62 victory over second-seeded and second-ranked Oshkosh Lourdes in the WIAA Division 4 state championship game.

“He’s the best player to go through New Glarus, that’s for sure,” New Glarus coach Travis Sysko said. “I think he’s one of the best point guards in the state and also one of the most humble. It’s always been about winning for him, never about the numbers. And you see the numbers he puts up, they are ridiculous.”

Said Lourdes coach Brad Clark of Kreklow: “He’s just so shifty. He gets you going one way and then the other. He’s the best guard we’ve faced all year, bar none.”

Mason Martinson, a 6-4 sophomore post player, had 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds and 6-0 senior guard Zach Feller, Kreklow’s cousin, provided 12 points and six boards for Capitol South Conference champion New Glarus (26-2). The Glarner Knights won their 17th consecutive game and earned their second upset victory after knocking off top-seeded, top-ranked and defending champion Manitowoc Roncalli on Thursday night.

“I’m thrilled for our kids right now and our community,” Sysko said. “It’s been a phenomenal journey. I’m happy to be sitting here getting ready to take that gold ball back to New Glarus. … It’s not easy to get here, right? It’s been 87 years since New Glarus got here the last time.”

Sophomore guard Preston Ruedinger led Trailways East champion Lourdes (26-2) with 17 points and 6-3 senior forward Hayden Jones had 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Senior guards Benny Huizenga and Henry Noone scored 13 and 11 points, respectively.

But New Glarus senior Trevor Gassman’s tough defense limited the touches of Noone, Lourdes’ top scorer.

“Trevor Gassman did an outstanding job tonight,” Sysko said. “He’s been one of our best lockdown defenders all year.”

“They were running me off the 3-point line a lot,” said Noone, a 58.5 percent 3-point shooter who was held about 10 points below his average. “Gassman played great defense, so tip your hat to him. He played a great game. They tried to just deny me open looks today. … I probably should have gotten to the rim a little more and gotten to the free throw line a little more, but I can’t do anything about it now. They played a great defensive game.”

The tight, back-and-forth game featured 18 lead changes, including 14 in the first half, and 12 ties. Five points was the biggest lead by either team.

In the second half, Kreklow’s high-arcing, step-back shot in the lane gave New Glarus a 53-49 lead. Junior guard Connor Siegenthaler made a 3-pointer, extending the lead to 56-51. But Lourdes closed within 60-59 on Noone’s layup with 3:15 remaining.

Martinson made the first of two free throws with 2:58 left and scored on a drive with 2:21 to play, giving New Glarus a 63-59 lead. Ruedinger made two free throws with 2:03 left, but Kreklow’s two free throws with 1:06 remaining increased New Glarus’ lead to 65-61 lead.

“We want the ball in (Kreklow’s) hands,” Sysko said. “He’s as cool of a character as we’ve ever had in our program and I think he demonstrated that down the stretch today.”

Lourdes shot 50 percent from the field, but the Knights were only 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) from 3-point range.

“That is a good team, probably the second-best team we’ve played all year,” Clark said of New Glarus. “But this is sports; I thought we left a lot on the rim there. We had looks. The ball just didn’t go in today. We normally make those shots. I thought we were a little tired.”

Kreklow had 12 points and four assists in the first half, including feeding Feller for a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining that sent New Glarus into halftime with a 37-35 lead.

“It’s just amazing to go out on this high note,” Kreklow said. “I’m just so grateful we were able to play here for our last game.”

New Glarus 37 30 — 67

Oshkosh Lourdes 35 27 — 62

NEW GLARUS — Feller 4 1-3 12, Kreklow 7 6-6 22, Craker 1 0-2 2, Gassman 1 3-4 5, Siegenthaler 2 0-0 6, Martinson 7 3-7 17, Schuett 1 0-0 3. Totals 23 13-22 67.

OSHKOSH LOURDES — Jones 6-15 4-8 16, Noone 5-11 0-0 11, Huizenga 5-8 0-0 13, Ruedinger 6-11 4-4 17, McKellips 2-3 1-2 5, Sydlik 0-0 0-0 0, Krueger 0-0 0—0 0, Kaull 0-0 0-0 0, Bengson 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Chier 0-0 0-0 0, Bauer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24 9-14 62.

3-point goals — NG 8-20 (Feller 3-4, Kreklow 2-6, Siegenthaler 2-8, Schuett 1-1, Martinson 0-1); OL 5-17 (Huizenga 3-6, Ruedinger 1-2, Noone 1-5, McKellips 0-1, Jones 0-3). Rebounds — NG 11-19-30 (Martinson 9, Feller 5, Siegenthaler 5, Gassman 5). OL 7-21-28 (Jones 10, Noone 6). Assists — NG 11 (Kreklow 4, Feller 3); OL 12 (Ruedinger 5). Turnovers — NG 10; OL 10. Steals — NG 5 (Siegenthaler 4); OL 9 (Ruedinger 3). Blocks — NG 2 (Martinson 2); OL 4 (Jones 3). Total fouls — NG 14, OL 19.

Bucky!

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.