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Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran boys heading to state

By Greg Bates

GREEN BAY – Marshal Bukowski said getting to play in the state tournament as a freshman was a memorable moment.

It was Bukowski’s goal to return to state before his high school career was over at Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran Co-op – mission accomplished.

The senior tied his career-high with 33 points, as host N.E.W. Lutheran dominated in the paint and outlasted Gresham 84-66 in a WIAA Division 5 sectional final Friday night.

This is N.E.W. Lutheran’s eighth trip to state in the last 12 seasons.

“That was our goal coming into this, so it’s amazing coming back to this, especially as a senior,” Bukowski said. “It means everything to me – it’s awesome.”

N.E.W. Lutheran coach Mark Meerstein has led the program to all eight of the state appearances, placing state runner-up in 2010, ’13 and ’14.

“It’s always special for the guys,” Meerstein said. “Even if you go back-to-back, it doesn’t matter. It’s always special because it’s a different group. We didn’t have a summer this year, and we slowly got better. When we got a full team back together, we did a nice job. That was a testament to them to stay in the course and making sure they looked at the end of the road.”

N.E.W. Lutheran was able to get to state by dominating Gresham in the paint.

Along with Bukowski’s 33 points, Tristan Lynch poured in 16 points – 15 in the second half.

“We wanted to get it inside, and I thought we did a good job,” Meerstein said. “Marshal and Tristan did a good job underneath. We didn’t want it to be a 3-point shooting contest, but we shot 16 threes in the first half and they shot four.”

The 6-foot-3 Bukowski and 6-6 Lynch caused mismatches for Gresham, which had just one player over 6-foot-1.

Bukowski also had a 33-point game earlier this season.

“I didn’t know I had 33 until the end of the game, and people were telling me,” he said. “My teammates were finding me, and we were breaking their press well.”

N.E.W. Lutheran (16-10) had a strong start to the game – hitting its first five shots and leading 11-6 before turning it up another notch.

The Blazers went on a 16-4 run fueled by three consecutive 3-pointers from Lucas Dhein – who finished with 15 points – making it 27-10.

Gresham (16-8) answered with back-to-back 3-point plays to narrow its deficit to 36-21 at halftime.

N.E.W. Lutheran had a seemingly comfortable lead in the second half, but Gresham wouldn’t go away.

The Wildcats pulled within seven, 54-47, with 9:21 remaining.

Gresham stayed within striking distance at 69-60, but N.E.W. Lutheran closed out the game on a 15-6 run.

The Blazers don’t have a flashy record this season, but they’re 13-2 (according to Meerstein) when the entire starting lineup is playing.

Dhein missed five games at the start of the season due to a soccer injury, and Lynch contracted COVID-19 and was out for six contests.

N.E.W. Lutheran will play in a state semifinal Thursday, March 4, at the La Crosse Center. “I’m excited right now,” Bukowski said. “I’m glad we were able to get there.”

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