Menomonie (WQOW) -- The McDonell Central boys basketball team definitely knows the way to Madison, as the Macks are about to take a state tournament trip for a third consecutive season.
It also means McDonell is familiar with the Kohl Center, but it never hurts to get some time on a college-sized court before the state tourney, which is why the Macks travel from Chippewa Falls to UW-Stout's Johnson Fieldhouse in Menomonie for their Tuesday practice. McDonell is averaging around 67.5 points per game this season, so playing on a court that's ten feet longer than the normal high school configuration is okay with them.
"We know it's going to take a little wind out of us but hopefully it affects them more in the game," says McDonell senior forward Hayden Baughman, a three-year starter, "so hopefully that works to our advantage."
"That's why we're here today is to get used to the size of the floor," says Macks head coach Archie Sherbinow, "we're lucky enough that we did get to play here earlier in the year [vs. Prescott in the Northwest Tip-Off Classic] and some of the guys have played on bigger floors before. It will help the style we want to play, getting up and down the floor and creating gaps for us to drive."
McDonell Central takes a 17-10 record to the state tourney, after finishing 24-4 last season, and 27-2 in 2016-17, when the Macks captured the Division 5 state title. This team, despite a stretch around the holidays when it dropped six of seven games, seems to be peaking during the postseason, and is on a season-long six-game winning streak. The Macks say they never lost faith no matter what their record looked like.
"I think them just keeping the belief that we could do good things and being able to point that out and say, 'hey you're playing very well right now, we just need to do it more consistently,' " Sherbinow says, "that's been beneficial and as a coach, that's good to see. It gives you a little bit of pleasure knowing, 'we told you we could get here,' we just had to keep working hard."
"I knew we could do this but we just had to pull a lot of things together and that's what really started to happen during the playoffs," adds Baughman, "that beginning part of the season, I was a little worried but everyone came together and started playing hard and playing well and now we're here."
McDonell Central will face Deerfield in a Division 5 state semifinal at around 10:45 A.M., Friday. The Demons are making their first-ever trip to state, and have a record of 23-4.