Rocky Peterson might not be a gambler, but at times he must feel like he’s holding a five-play scratch-off lottery ticket.
He heads into each game thinking his Winona Senior High School boys basketball team could hit the jackpot. The potential, despite a 10-14 record, is there for something big.
On the other hand, there have been games this season where the Winhawks have come up empty, leaving their veteran coach searching for answers.
So when the Winhawks travel to Austin, Minn., Saturday night for a MSHSL Section 1AAA semifinal against the top-seeded Packers (21-5), triple 7s just might happen.
“If we can sustain that type of play for a full game, we could be dangerous,” Peterson said after the fifth-seeded Winhawks bumped off fourth-seeded Red Wing Wednesday night.
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“We have several weapons that we can start shooting from the perimeter with, so we are hard to really defend. It is high school basketball, on a given night, anything can happen.”
There is no doubt that Hunter Gamoke is Winona’s leader both offensively and defensively. He was spark against Red Wing that the team needed, and one the Winhawks certainly fed off of.
When Gamoke used a dribble drive to cut into the lane, it opened up the Winhawks’ offensive options, including post player Dan Schwartz. If Winona is going to beat Austin for the first time in three meetings this season, he will have to do that again.
In addition, the Winhawks will have to find a way to get William Leaf some open looks from behind the 3-point arc. Leaf has converted 69 3-point shots this season, two shy of the school record.
Red Wing took Leaf’s outside looks away, however, allowing him to get just one 3-pointer off.
“They (Red Wing) did a nice job of trying to keep the ball away from Willie, and he struggled a little bit,” Peterson said. “We didn’t do a good job of going and picking him up either and getting him some good looks. We anticipated some of those things.”
The Winhawks were not looking past Red Wing, Gamoke said, but they are definitely happy to be facing Austin again.
“I am nervous and pretty excited at the same time,” Gamoke said of a tournament showdown with the Packers. “I think if we can get past their trap that they do, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
It’s a game that has been on Winona’s radar, Peterson admitted.
“We have been thinking about this matchup for a long time now because we thought it might come down to this,” Peterson said. “We’ll see what we can do with Austin and hopefully give them some looks that they have not seen yet this year.”