Onalaska's bid for consecutive state boys basketball championships ends in the WIAA Division 2 State Semifinal round. Pulaski knocks off the number-one ranked Hilltoppers 46-42 in a game that went to overtime.
After leading by a point at halftime, Pulaski extended their lead to as many as 9 points in the 3rd quarter.
Onalaska responded with a 10-0 run beginning late in the 3rd quarter and carried into the 4th and the Hilltoppers took a 31-30 lead after a Matt Thomas jumper. Thomas was the game's leading scorer with 25 points.
Onalaska head coach Craig Kowal admits a big rally like that took a lot out of his players. "Anytime you get down and make a run you spend a lot of energy." Thomas adds, "I thought when we had that 1 point lead we'd get it."
Thomas finished the game shooting 0-3 from behind the arc. "They flew on him hard. They made Matt show his versatility. They did a good job at closing out the three," says Kowal.
The game marks the end of Thomas' high school career, as he finished a couple of wins shy of capturing his second WIAA gold ball. "These last four years have been the best years of my life. This is not the way I wanted to finish my senior year."
His playing days at Onalaska are done, but Thomas is a player that will go down as one of the best ever to play in the Coulee Region. "It's one thing to coach a talented player," says Kowal. "But to have the character and intangibles that go with it."
"It’s a dream come true to coach a kid like this. I wouldn’t trade him for any player in the state of Wisconsin."