A historic and memorable journey came to an abrupt end on Thursday, as your Kettle Moraine Lutheran Charger Boys suffered a heartbreaking Overtime, Buzzer beating shot loss to Valders, 61-63, in the State Semi-Final match up. This game could arguably be the most thrilling game of the WIAA State Tournament Finals, as it featured not only a buzzer beating shot, but also Overtime and a thrilling second half come back by KML.
The game itself was only a portion of the entire “State” experience. The Charger Boys were the first team in KML Boys Basketball history to make it to the State Semi Final round and make the journey to play in Madison. The day was filled with unforgettable moments. From a fire truck escort out of town, seeing the streets lined with KML fans and community support, VIP treatment inside the Kohl Center, catching glimpses of Wisconsin Badger players and coaches, seeing (and hearing!) all the KML fans filling the arena, and finally playing on the Kohl Center floor in front of thousands of people in person and on TV.
When it came time for tip off, the Chargers zeroed in on the task at hand and focused on what was happening between the lines. It was a battle from the start and the Chargers weathered a near record breaking performance from Valders. Valders made an incredible 11 three pointers in the game on only 23 attempts. That number of makes was only 3 shy of the Division 3 record (14) but would have broken the record in Division 4 & 5 (10), Tied Division 1 (11) , and been 1 shy of the Division 2 record (12). Even with all that, the Chargers stood strong and keep clawing. The Chargers tied the game up with a little under a minute to go in regulation and then made a crucial stop on defense giving the Chargers about 10 seconds to try for the winning basket. Grant Biesterfeld found the perfect gap down the left side of the lane and let a shot go that just barely rimmed out and time expired as players scrapped for the ball. It all came down to Overtime and defense was king for both teams and neither team scored in over time until the final buzzer sounded. The Chargers again found themselves with about 14 seconds on the clock and the ball in Grant’s hands. It was almost the exact same situation except this time Valders collapsed hard on Grant and he tried to pass the ball off the Zach Zuleger in the lane. As he passed the ball it got knock around and grabbed by a player from Valders who passed the ball up ahead to a teammate who pulled up at about the free throw line for a desperation shot. As the buzzer sounded, the ball hit the rim, bounced around, and eventually made its way through the hoop. The Chargers were left in stunned disbelief as the Valders players dog piled in celebration at mid court.
The Chargers were lead in scoring by Solomon Zarling’s incredible 22 point performance. He was followed up by Zach Zuleger’s strong interior performance of 12 points and 8 rebounds and Andrew May’s 10 point, 10 rebound double double output. Zach Zuleger finished the year with 233 rebounds, shattering the old school record of 209. Zach was also just 3 blocks shy of tying the school record for most blocks in a single season.
To the 2017-2018 Charger Boys Basketball Team:
To say we are proud of what this incredible group of young men has accomplished, just doesn’t seem like enough. Even digging for synonyms like appreciative, well-pleased, glad, or honored, no matter what it doesn’t convey how this Coach and all of Charger Nation really feels. But that is the best we can physically put into words to say to each and every one of you, “We are so incredibly proud of you.”
You have accomplished something that will never be forgotten, you have made every single KML alumni who put on that jersey proud, and you have set the bar high for all future Chargers. You have single handedly given the Charger Nation a taste of what tournament greatness can be and I can guarantee that this one taste has ignited a fire within all of Charger Nation to make it back and claim that gold ball. Any future accomplishment can be directly attributed to what you boys have done this season.
From a Coach’s perspective, we have been reminding you that your opponent is just like you. Just another group of 16, 17, 18 year old high school kids playing basketball who also go to class, play video games, and goof off just like you. Let me tell you though, you are so much more than just another group of high school basketball players. You are a special group of young men who time after time let their faith shine to others and be that incredible example of what being a Charger is all about. People will talk about how great of basketball players you are and what you can do on the court, but all of Charger Nation knows that you are even better Christian men. Noah Nichols put it best, “They’re better men than they are basketball players, and they are great basketball players. So that tells you something.”
Just remember boys, the adrenaline of the moment and the agony of defeat will fade, but the memories and the pride you carry with you for what you have accomplished will stick with you forever.
All of Charger Nation is proud of you and we will never forget the incredible journey you let us all share with you.
Thank you Charger Boys for an unforgettable season, Thank you.