Paul Wollersheim was one of the reasons why Dominican began its half-decade of dominance in 2011-12 when he was coach for the first of five consecutive WIAA state championships. On March 8, Wollersheim was one of the reasons Dominican's playoff winning streak came to a halt.
In a Division 3 sectional semifinal at West Allis Central, Wollersheim, in his second season as the head coach at No. 1-seed Martin Luther, led his young squad to a 59-45 victory over third-seeded Dominican. Wollersheim went 352-66 in 17 seasons as head coach of Dominican and won three WIAA state championships and three WISAA titles.
"I kind of got this thing going," said Wollersheim, who resigned at Dominican after winning the 2012 Division 4 title. "They haven't lost a playoff game until now since then. That's five years. It's 32 straight playoff games they've won."
The win was in serious doubt early on. Dominican held a 23-15 lead at halftime, but Martin Luther rattled off 14 straight points to begin the second half.
"Coach basically told us that we have got to pick up the pace," sophomore Trequan Carrington said. "If we come out and we own the first 7 minutes, it would be a different ballgame. We came out there and tried to execute what coach preached to us at half."
Carrington, a 5-9 guard who finished with a game-high 22 points, was fearless with his constant drives in the paint against Dominican's lengthy lineup.
"Coach told me I've got to attack more and get my teammates involved more," Carrington said. "We have a totally different team when we aren't moving right and are not functioning. In the first half, we didn't really do the things we practiced on all week to get prepared for this game. I fee like in the second half, we came back out and did that better."
Dominican first scored in the second half with 11 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in regulation after junior Gacoby Jones' 3-pointer to cut Martin Luther's lead to 29-26. Martin Luther had a counterpunch for every Dominican basket.
"We got some stops defensively and we got some turnovers," Wollersheim said. "That allowed us to get in transition. Obviously, we like to get up and down a little bit. It really benefits us. The game kind of went from their style in the first half, which is slowed down, half-court, and it started to get a little more up tempo, which is something we prefer."
Dominican freshman Abe Scruggs sunk a three with 5:39 left to make it 46-40 in favor of Martin Luther, but that was the closest Dominican would get the rest of the way.
"We had our opportunities to really put the hammer down, and we didn't finish on some easy shots," Dominican coach Jim Gosz said. "Credit Martin Luther. They took it to us. It was a tale of two halves. Everything we executed in the first half we didn't get done in the second half."
Xzavier Jones scored 12 points for Martin Luther, and Ki-Anthony Blake added 8 points.
The victory came a day before Martin Luther's girls basketball team played in its first WIAA state tournament.
"It's kind of unbelievable," Wollersheim said. "I thought we could be good this year, but I didn't expect to be playing one game away from going to state. Our girls are having just an amazing (season). The kids are having a hard time concentrating on anything at school. It's just a buzz throughout the entire school."
The Martin Luther boys are also in unknown territory and have never advanced to the WIAA sectional round before this season.
"It's a weird set of emotions for me because I've kind of been there a number of times and the kids and the school haven't," Wollersheim said. "The players are so young, I'm not sure they quite understand what they're accomplishing here. It's kind of a mix of emotions. I'm kind of grounded throughout the whole thing. I'm so happy for our school and our principal, Wayne Jensen. It's just been amazing."
Dominican's four seniors -- Ralen Brown, Corey Guy, Jake Bennett and Will Jelacic -- were part of one of the most successful runs in recent history.
"I can't speak enough about them," Gosz said. "They have a lot of class, and we have nothing to hang our heads over."
Brown scored a team-high 13 points and Scruggs added 12 points. Jones had 9 points.
At 7:30 p.m March 11 at Whitefish Bay, Martin Luther will play the winner of Ripon and Waupun for a chance at the state tournament.
"Our community is so supportive," Carrington said. "They back us up on anything that we do. Being a student at Martin Luther, I love it. We just have to take it one game at a time. It doesn't stop here. We have bigger goals we want to achieve."