Langrehr's buzzer-beater keeps Cards alive
Before Bangor was able to hold off a second-half charge and defeat Southwestern 70-60 in Saturday’s sectional final to earn its second straight state berth, the Cardiac Cards had to win a thriller over Blair-Taylor in Thursday’s semifinal at Holmen High School.
Despite building a 32-27 halftime lead over the Wildcats, the defending Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 5 state champion Cardinals found themselves trailing by eight midway through the second half.
That’s about the time Bangor sophomore Zane Langrehr stepped up, scoring 11 points in the final 5:42 to lead a Cardinal comeback for the ages.
A pair of baskets put Blair-Taylor up 60-51 at the six-minute mark, but Langrehr responded with back-to-back baskets – the first on an offensive rebound – to cut the deficit to 60-56 with 5:19 left on the clock.
What followed left a near-capacity crowd of more than 1,000 fans in shock, as Langrehr drained three straight three pointers – the final with 2.8 seconds remaining – to lift Bangor to a thrilling 68-65 victory over the Wildcats.
Blair-Taylor got off a desperation shot from three-quarters court as time ran out, but it bounced off the rim and fell safely to the floor, sending Bangor to Saturday’s sectional final against Southwestern at Logan High School, where the Cards would earn a 70-60 victory and their second state tournament berth in a row.
“It feels great,” said Langrehr of the shot heard ‘round Bangor.
“We actually had a plan to go down low to Grant (Manke), but they were triple-teaming him and that created a wide open shot for me,” he continued. “They found me in the corner. It was great making that shot – it’s something I’ll never forget.
While Langrehr’s onslaught of late three-pointers will go down in Bangor history, they were actually set up by his aggressiveness earlier in the half.
Facing deficits of eight and nine points late, Langrehr decided it was time to penetrate the Wildcat defense and make something happen.
Two baskets and a couple of assists to Manke down deep, and Blair-Taylor decided to pack the middle in an effort to stop Bangor’s big man.
That left some space for Langrehr deep on the left baseline, and the rest is history.
“I just knew we had to get something going,” offered Langrehr.
Bangor first-year coach Jacob Pederson agreed that Langrehr’s aggressiveness late in the game was key.
“He was able to penetrate late in the game, when we needed a couple of baskets,” Pederson offered. “Zane has played big for us all season long. They were keying on Grant on that last play. Ultimately, we were trying to get him the ball to Grant, but we got it to Zane and he was open – it was quite a moment.”
Pederson also credited the Bangor defense, which got some key steals off a late full-court press that helped the Cards battle back.
“We knew we needed some extra possessions, so we tried to get Blair-Taylor out of rhythm on offense,” he said. “They tried to take some time off the clock, but our players stepped up and we were able to make the plays.”
Manke scored 24 points to lead the Cardinal cagers on the offensive end of the hardwood, while Langrehr finished with 17 points – including 15 in the pivotal second half.
Jaymeson Freit added a dozen points for Bangor, followed by Hank Reader with nine, Trevor Jones with four and Jaden Fargen with a pair.
The win was the third in post-season play in the past four years over the Wildcats, who defeated the Cardinals 74-66 in a nonconference regular-season contest at Blair-Taylor in early December.
Bangor knocked off Blair-Taylor 87-85 in a 2016 regional final and 88-59 in a 2017 regional semifinal.
Since the December loss at Blair-Taylor, Bangor has rattled off 22 straight wins, including a pair over the weekend to advance to Friday’s WIAA Division 5 state tournament semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison.