MADISON (NBC 26) — Junior forward Will Hornseth scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the De Pere boys basketball team outlasted Kettle Moraine for a 55-44 win in Friday's WIAA Division 1 state semifinals.
The Redbirds were heavy favorites coming in, but struggled to separate from the No. 4-seeded Lasers until late in the game.
With 13:16 to play in the second half, Alex Koenig knocked down a three to give Kettle Moraine its first lead at 36-34.
It turned out to be the Lasers' only advantage, as the Redbirds responded with a 10-0 run to take control of the game.
"We didn't flinch," De Pere head coach Brian Winchester said. "We came back and made a little bit of a run and just kind of chipped away and built a little bit of a lead.
"We never really felt comfortable," he added. "But I thought our kids did a great job coming back."
The Redbirds shot just 3-11 from three-point range, but dominated the game inside with 30 points in the paint compared to 18 for Kettle Moraine.
"If they're taking away the three or we're not hitting from the outside, we have the option to go to the inside," the 6'8" Hornseth said. "I think that I'm pretty physical down there with them, move them around to try and get my stuff. It's what I've grown up doing and how I play basketball."
De Pere also held a huge advantage from the free throw line, shooting 14-16 while the Lasers were 3-7.
The Redbirds will play Arrowhead Saturday for a chance to win their first state championship since 1934. A win would also make De Pere the first team in state history to finish 30-0.
There have been 45 previous undefeated teams, but a recent rule change increased the number of regular season games to 24 - giving the Redbirds an opportunity to win 30.
Neenah and Randolph currently hold the record for most wins in a season with 29.