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Missing its star didn’t prevent Walther Lutheran from a shining moment in Friday’s Class 2A Guerin regional title game.
Overcoming the absence due of illness of 23-point per game scorer John Fugua, the Broncos (15-13) showed no ill effects from the start in racing to a 10-1 lead four minutes into the contest and rolling on to a 66-38 win over Rowe-Clark.
“He’s been our offense all season,” Walther Lutheran coach Al Lainio said. “For us to put up 66 without him, I couldn’t be more proud.
I told the team it’s a great opportunity for guys to step up and find other ways to score, and they did a heck of a job.”
Doing the job inside was 6-foot-6 senior Justin Mack, who led the Broncos with 20 points and nine rebounds.
“When he got the ball in the paint he did a good job finishing,” Lainio said of Mack’s play. “He works hard, is physical and finishes.”
“We had a good size advantage so we tried to get it into the post,” Mack said. “With Jon out I knew I had to step up and get rebounds and score for the team. We played well as a team. Everybody stepped up, not just me.”
Other leaders for Walther Lutheran were Najee Toomer (eight points, five assists), Rmandre Stockley (eight points) and Lee Hardick (seven points).
Rowe-Clark guards Trehavis Smith (14 points, five rebounds, two steals) and Joshua Kimbrough (11 points) had solid games, but an ice cold start doomed their team’s hopes. The Lions (15-8) missed their first 13 field goal attempts over the opening 10:25 of the game, and finished the night just 11 of 48 from the floor.
Walther Lutheran closed the night on a 20-7 run in the final six minutes to widen its 15-point lead of early in the fourth quarter.
Joe Lomnicki added five points and four assists for the Broncos, and KC McNeil and Vince Coleman each had four points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Having won its second regional title in a row, Walther Lutheran now eyes its first sectional crown since 1989.
“We feel confident with Jon coming back that we can try to go downstate,” Mack said.
“This makes us better because we won regionals without our best player,” Lainio said, “and that just adds confidence for our guys. The sky’s the limit.”