SOMERSET, Wis. -- The Somerset boys’ basketball team came out on opposite sides of a pair of close playoff games last week.

The second-seeded Spartans pulled out a 78-75 victory in a back-and-forth affair against No. 3 New Richmond in a Division 2 regional semifinal Friday night, Feb. 21, at home, but couldn’t catch top-seeded Altoona in a 59-54 loss in Saturday night’s regional final.

The Spartans battled back from an eight-point deficit to New Richmond Friday night and the two teams traded leads down the stretch before Somerset held on for a three-point win.

“I thought that was a pretty high level high school basketball game,” Spartan coach Troy Wink said. “Two strong teams that really battled hard all night. Proud of my team's effort and fight, and really happy for all of them and the job they did and for the opportunity to play for a regional championship.”

Trae Kreibich hit six 3-pointers for the Spartans, including some key shots down the stretch, to finish with 24 points while Melvin Medina-Ortiz and Jackson Cook contributed 22 points each. Medina-Ortiz also had seven rebounds and nine assists and Cook had seven boards.

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New Richmond’s Owen Covey (1) starts his drive from top of the key in the first half of the Tigers’ 78-75 loss to Somerset in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal Friday night, Feb. 19, in Somerset. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
New Richmond’s Owen Covey (1) starts his drive from top of the key in the first half of the Tigers’ 78-75 loss to Somerset in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal Friday night, Feb. 19, in Somerset. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

New Richmond's CJ Campbell matched Kreibich with six 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 31 points and had eight rebounds and four assists before fouling out late. Ben Wacker scored 15 points in the loss while Alex Jarchow and Drew Effertz finished with seven points each.

Like Wink, Tiger coach Ryan Leis called it a great high school basketball game.

“Not the outcome we wanted, but it was a game that was back and forth,” Leis said. “Both teams made several runs and we just ran out of time on our last run. Could not be more proud of the way our guys played. They have a lot to be proud of in that game and the way that they handled such a crazy season. Obviously, it wasn't the way we wanted to end it, but the team did some really good things this year and can hold their heads high.”

While New Richmond’s season ended with a record of 10-9, Somerset hit the road for Altoona for the regional title game the following night and went toe-to-toe with the top-seeded Rails before coming up four points short at the end.

After trailing 27-24 at the break, the Spartans tied it up early in the second half and trailed by one with 15 seconds left when Kreibich’s attempt for the lead rimmed out. Altoona made a pair of free throws to stretch the gap to three, and Medina-Ortiz just missed a three-pointer to tie before another Altoona free throw made the final 59-54.

“Played another high level game versus the top seeded team in the regional,” Wink noted.

Medina-Ortiz finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists in the loss and Tysen Wink had 13 points and eight rebounds while Cook had nine points and Kreibich scored eight.

Coach Wink saluted his players, especially the seniors, for finishing 17-9 in a challenging season.

“I’m going to really miss the seniors on this team,” he said. “High character kids, all are 3.0 and above students, many multi sport athletes. They've been lifting daily, open gyms and summer leagues. Gave up a lot during Covid to be sure we could play by staying home and doing everything in their power to be sure we played a full schedule.”