Neenah’s Max Klesmit banked in a 15-foot shot from the elbow with 1.7 seconds left to give the Rockets a 68-66 victory over Hudson in a WIAA sectional final Sunday. March 10 in Wisconsin Rapids.
The win sends fourth-seeded Neenah to the WIAA State Tournament for the 27th time in program history while the third-seeded Raiders, who were seeking their first state tournament appearance since 1999, end the season with a record of 20-5. Neenah knocked off top-seeded Kimberly 57-56 in the sectional semifinals while Hudson topped No. 2 Appleton West 75-72.
Hudson led 30-20 at halftime and took its biggest lead of the game, 38-22, on a bucket by Jacob Daulton early in the second half.
Neenah chipped away and pulled to within one with just under five minutes remaining before a three-pointer by Daulton gave Hudson a 60-56 lead with 4:40 left.
Neenah answered with a 7-0 run and the lead changed hands twice before Hudson took its last lead of the game, 66-64, on a pair of free throws by Daulton with 1:28 remaining.
Two Neenah free throws tied the score and an empty possession by Hudson gave the Rockets the ball with under 30 seconds left, leading to Klesmit’s game-winning jumper with 1.7 seconds on the clock.
Klesmit scored 28 of his game-high 32 points in the second half to buoy Neenah’s comeback while Daulton led Hudson with 23. Keyser Helterbrand finished with 15 points while Landen Bilse and Charlie Neuenschwander scored nine points each.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, March 9, but was pushed back a day due to weather.