HEARTBREAK: Lake Mills falls in state semifinal thriller

Following a hot start from the #4 Bulldogs, #1 Grand View Christian defeats Lake Mills 71-66 in double overtime of the Class 1A semifinal.


Lake Mills started as hot as they have in three state tournament games before today’s semifinal – the first in school history. At the first media timeout, the Bulldogs led 8-4, a Kadin Abele three out of those eight points. Abele, a Lake Mills senior, had only six all season. They continued following the timeout; a team that made one three-pointer in the quarterfinals on Monday made two more in the final four minutes of the first quarter to lead 18-8 over top-seeded GVC. Again, one of those three is from an unlikely source. AJ Ramaker, coming in with ten on the season, knocks down his first of the tournament.

Playing one of his best career games, Wyatt Helming helped Lake Mills stretch the lead to 14 midway through the second quarter and again to 13 after Grand View Christian cut it to 11. Senior Bennet Berger made a three as the last bucket of the first half to help Lake Mills take a one-point advantage heading to the Locker room. “(This game) shows the true skill set of a small school big man, said Lake Mills coach Kyle Menke. “Some of the games he’s posting up, you also saw how he handled the ball – he’s a special player,” said Menke

Lake Mills had as good of a first-half as you could, leading the top seed by 16 while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. They got scoring from six different players. They outrebounded the taller Grand View Christian 16 to 11, leading to eight second-chance points, and dominated many categories. Though Menke and the Bulldogs knew GVC would make a run in the second half, they did.

The Bulldogs 16 point halftime lead was the largest it would ever get, as GVC went on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter before Lake Mills used a timeout; they would continue the run after the timeout. “They made an adjustment defensively,” said Menke of GVC in the second half.  After a late shot by Manny Hammonds, the Thunder ended up winning the quarter 20-3 was changed from a three to a two. “At first, we didn’t adjust well to them; we had some bad turnovers,” said Menke. Though agreed when asked about the good looks the Bulldogs did get.

To start the fourth quarter, it was more of Grand View Christian’s run. The Thunder outscored Lake Mills 8-4 in the early parts of the quarter to lead by as much as five. Though, that’s when Menke saw a bright spot from his team, “It probably seemed like they would go on to win by double digitals, but our kids just dug in.” Helming said he knew they’d make a run, “We knew they’d make a run the whole game; they’re a very talented team.” Wyatt knew his team would keep fighting to stay in the game, and that’s what the Bulldogs did. Lake Mills weathered the storm and forced overtime. Helming confidently took the tying shot with 1:20 reaming in the game – a long three-pointer. Grand View Christian decided to hold for the last attempt by holding the ball for over a minute, which will be eliminated in high school basketball with a shot clock implantation in 2022-2023. GVC drove for their shot with eight seconds left in the game but came up empty-handed.


In the first overtime, after Grand View Christian took the initial shot and led 54-52, Helming came down the floor and knocked down a three to give Lake Mills a long-awaited lead once again. Next offensive possession, Helming again gave Lake Mills a larger lead by knocking down another two-point basketball. Though, when they needed it most, Grand View Christians Manny Hammonds made another three with 1:29 remaining to tie the game at 57-57. Lake Mills wasted a full minute on the clock before Grand View Christian fouled Seth Hermanson, sending him to the free-throw line. Lake Mills coach Kyle Menke was frustrated with the call, thinking it was an intentional foul, giving Lake Mills two free throws and the ball, though the officials ruled it a common foul, and when the front end of the 1-and-1 was missed; Grand View Christian once again had the ball with a chance to win. Lake Mills had other ideas; they forced a jump ball and got a last-second heave from Wyatt Helming, they nearly ended it but came up short, and the teams were heading for a second overtime.

In the final overtime, Grand View Christian took a quick six-point lead, which eventually ballooned to eight, and from there, GVC was able to finish the game and end Lake Mills’ season with a 71-66 win. “(these seniors) are the winnest in Lake Mills history,” said Lake Mills coach Kyle Menke with emotion. “Not many people get to play with their siblings; I got to play with two of mine,” said Helming after the game. “There is no other town I’d like to wear on my chest,” said senior Seth Hermanson.


Lake Mills ends the season 25-2 overall and a top-4 team in Class 1A.




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