Southern Door’s Alex Daoust is well aware of the significance of Friday’s 67-65 win over Valders in the Division 3 boys basketball regional semifinal.
“My brother Kyle and his team never have been able to beat this Valders team,” he said. “I also have encountered two losses to Valders in the playoffs. We knew going into tonight it wasn’t going to be easy but it seemed doable.”
Daoust erased the disappointment of five consecutive regional tournament losses to Valders by hitting two free throws with 6 seconds remaining. The Eagles’ string of losses to the Vikings began with a regional semifinal loss in 2014 and reached five with a 58-52 loss in the 2019 regional final.
“After hitting the game winning free throws, I quickly realized I have been dreaming of this moment ever since I was a kid and really just soaked it in,” Daoust said. “It is definitely one of the highlights of my career.”
It seemed as if the Eagles would experience playoff disappointment again after Jared Valleskey hit a pair of free throws to give the Vikings a 62-55 lead with 5 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the game.
Nic Pierre started the Eagles’ rally with a 3-point play and Daoust cut the Vikings’ lead to 62-60 with a driving layup with 4:25 to play. Cole Hove responded with a 3-point play to increase the Vikings’ lead to 65-60 with 3:50 remaining in the game.
Devin Shinktgen converted a 3-point play after being fouled on a rebound basket to cut the Vikings’ advantage to 65-63, and Nater Everard tied the game at 65 with two free throws with 3:00 remaining.
After trading a pair of empty possessions, the Eagles decided to hold the ball with 1:13 remaining and called a timeout with 20 second to play. Daoust was fouled on a drive to the basket, and he followed with his game winning free throws.
The Vikings had one last shot to at least tie the game, but Peyton Dietrich’s last-second shot rolled out.
“Our guys locked down defensively and got stops when they needed to,” Southern Door coach Josh Vandenbush said of his team’s rally. “Our guys have been tested like this in close games all year and our team finds ways to pull out the victory. The guys knew who we were playing. I emphasized the fact that they are just another team in the way of our team goal of winning a regional title.”
Standing between the Eagles and a regional title is Brillion, a 66-38 winner over Kewaunee. The Lions defeated Valders twice by a combined total of five points in the regular season.
“This game means a lot to me and my teammates,” said Daoust, who led the Eagles with 19 points. “We know going into this upcoming game that it won’t be easy, but we feel we have experience and trust one another. Our last regional championship was my freshman year. It would mean a lot for our team and community to get another one.”