Beau DeLaet (middle) celebrates with teammates after defeating Suring in their WIAA Division 5 regional final game in Wausaukee on Saturday. EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Beau DeLaet (middle) celebrates with teammates after defeating Suring in their WIAA Division 5 regional final game in Wausaukee on Saturday.
EagleHerald/Billy Betts
WAUSAUKEE - Beau DeLaet has played and won a lot of big games over his four-year varsity career in Wausaukee.

Behind a stellar second-half performance by DeLaet, his Rangers earned a trip to sectional play after a 52-48 victory over Suring Saturday in their WIAA Division 5 regional final.

"We've won several of these games in baseball, but this was my first in basketball," DeLaet said. "The atmosphere is so much louder. Our fans were great to play for tonight."

It was a tale of two halves for the Rangers.

The first half was all in favor of Zach Orlando and the Rangers.

Orlando opened the game up with a 3-pointer, followed by nine points from Aaron Schlies, to give Wausaukee a 12-4 lead five minutes into the contest.

After an Eagle timeout, Tyler Fisher sank two straight inside shots to narrow the lead to four.

Orlando calmly answer by knocking down back-to-back triples in front of the Suring bench. The second one, which put Wausaukee up 18-9, was from five feet behind the three-point line.

"He couldn't miss," Suring coach Jim Keefe said. "It seemed like wherever Zach (Orlando) had the ball, he was in range."

Wausaukee continued its strong play in the second quarter and took a 35-23 lead into the half.

"That was a very good half for us," Wausaukee coach John Ranallo said. "Our defense was solid and we knocked down some big shots."

The second half started just like the first as Schlies sank two early layups to put the Rangers up 39-25 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Keefe switched his defense up from man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone against the Rangers.

The change worked instantly as Wausaukee turned the ball over on its next three possessions.

Wausaukee's offensive struggles continued, but the Eagles weren't able to take advantage.

With eight seconds remaining in the quarter, the Rangers drought ended after Schlies drew a foul and sank two shots from the line to put Wausaukee up 41-32.

DeLaet opened the fourth quarter with a long-range triple to extend the Ranger lead to 12.

After a Creo VanBellinger 3-pointer and seven-straight Suring points, DeLaet found a hole in the defense and drove to the lane for a layup to make it 46-39 with four minutes to go.

Suring cut the deficit to three at 49-46 with 1:25 left after a Dillon Kempen fade-away jumper, but Schlies sank three clutch free throws and Wausaukee's defense held strong to finish the game.

"I was very proud of the way we fought back," Keefe said. "I told the guys at halftime we need 13 points more than Wausaukee in 16 minutes and we'll win. We almost did it. There's nothing to be disappointed about."

Schlies finished with 20 points to lead the Rangers (22-3). Orlando had 14 and DeLaet added seven with five assists.

Kempen ended his stellar career with 16 points, including 10 in the final quarter, to lead the Eagles. Fisher had 14 and VanBellinger added nine.

"That Kempen kid lit it up in the fourth and almost single-handedly put them back in the game," Ranallo said. "This was a great win for the program. The second half wasn't our best, but we hung in there and took care of business when we needed to."

The Rangers will play NEW Lutheran at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bay Port High School. The Blazers defeated St. Thomas Aquinas Academy on Saturday.

"That will be a tough game against a good team," Ranallo said. "We just have to keep working hard and play our game."

WAUSAUKEE (52) - Kempinski 4, Self 0, Orlando 14, Arndt 0, Kramer 5, Smith 2, Guarniere 0, DeLaet 7, Schlies 20; FTs: 11-16

SURING (48) - Christensen 1, Fisher 14, Jazwiecki 0, Runge 2, Kempen 16, VanBellinger 9, Vollmer 0, Horst 6; FTs: 8-13

Wausaukee 18 17 6 11 - 52

Suring 9 14 9 16 - 48