OSHKOSH, Wis. (NBC 26) — Not many Wisconsin high school basketball fans gave Wrightstown much of a chance against Racine St. Catherine's on Friday.
The Tigers were making their first ever state tournament appearance, and they went up against a vaunted program that has won seven sectional titles since 2005.
Despite that, Wrightstown played tough in the state semifinal matchup. They kept the game within a couple possessions in the first half, before St. Cat's opened up a 12-point halftime lead with a run late in the first half.
The Tigers answered with a 8-2 run in the opening minutes of the second, but could never get over the hump against an Angels team that features two future Division I college players, including UW-Green Bay commit Kamari McGee.
Wrightstown lost 53-44, but came away extremely pleased with how they played.
"We know they have two D1 guys and a D2 guy and a bunch of other just great athletes. We have a bunch of 6'3" - at the most - un-athletic guys who can shoot... every other night," senior guard Matthew Hansen, who led the Tigers with 16 points, joked.
"We might not be the most talented team. I don't know if we got a college player on our team. We might not," Wrightstown head coach Cory Haese added. "But the way they play together. And their heart. And how much they care about each other is something that is really cool."
Their game was played at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh. Teams aren't getting a true "state tournament experience," but Haese said he came away very pleased and proud.
"Being in Wrightstown, it's just a wonderful community," he said. "We don't have a McDonald's or a Kwik Trip or a stoplight but we have each other.
"It's Wrightstown Tiger-blue is playing at state today and it didn't matter what sport it was," he added. "And it means a lot to our community that basketball was able to do something down here that a lot of other schools have enjoyed in the past."
The Wrightstown wrestling team won a state championship in 2020. The Tigers girls basketball team also advanced to the state championship game last year, but never got a chance to play as the tournament was canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.