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Tyler Herro feels right at home on the free-throw line in clutch situations.

The Whitnall sophomore guard went to the line six times in the final 32 seconds of overtime in a WIAA Division 2 sectional game on March 10, converting all but the last one to give his team a hard-fought 70-67 triumph over a game Waukesha North team.

'I know I've been prepping for this since the third grade,' said Herro, who finished with 40 points, including 10 of 11 from the line. 'I came in here knowing I've been here before in big AAU games, big youth games, high school games. I've done this before.'

Whitnall coach Steve Kujawa certainly had confidence in his sophomore star, finding ways to get the ball into his hands at the most crucial moments.

'He's a go-to player,' Kujawa said. 'Down the stretch, give him the basketball, and he's going to put those free throws in.'

Held comfortable lead

For a while, it looked like the Falcons (19-6) would not need late heroics from Herro. They held a 53-40 advantage with about four minutes remaining, only to see North go on a 10-0 run that made it 53-50.

The Falcons kept scoring, but North sophomore Will McDonald became a putback machine in the final minutes.

Whitnall forward Dan Alexopoulos picked up a loose ball and tallied to make it 55-50; then McDonald put back a shot to cut it to 3 points again. Whitnall forward Kevion Taylor hit two free throws, but McDonald hit two more inside baskets to bring his team within 57-56 with 39.9 seconds left.

Herro was fouled and netted two free throws for a 59-56 lead with 34 seconds remaining, and North worked the clock down, missing on one shot but getting the rebound. Junior Kendall Gould drilled a 3-point field goal at the buzzer to force overtime at 59-59.

'Hats off to Waukesha North,' said. 'They put a lot of pressure on us, we had some turnovers. That big guy (McDonald) just got rolling. The thing is, we never cracked.'

Herro added, 'I tried to keep everyone together, as our coaches did. We knew coming into this game that Waukesha North wasn't going to give up. We could be up 30, 40, 12, 10; we knew they were going to fight back. We just had to keep composure.'

The Falcons did just that in the extra session. Taylor opened with one free throw, and then Herro nailed a clutch 3-pointer from the right corner for a 63-59 lead.

North's Chase Goodings and Taylor exchanged baskets, and Goodings hit two free throws to bring North within 65-63 with 1:02 left.

Adam Wieczorek stole the ball for North, but Herro swiped it back for Whitnall, was fouled and hit two free throws.

North connected on two baskets, but each time, the Falcons inbounded to Herro, and he hit three of four, the last coming with just 2.2 seconds left. After his miss, North missed a midcourt 3-point shot.

North coach Sam Katula was pleased with his team's late effort, even though it fell short.

'We started pressing a little bit, and we ended up getting some turnovers,' Katula said. 'We started knocking down a couple shots, found Will on the inside. Our guys are resilient. That's how this senior class has been forever. Kudos to them for always fighting to the end.'

Coach praises Herro

Katula was clearly impressed with Herro.

'He's an unreal player,' the North coach said. 'He's special, and he's going to be special for another two years. He just played tonight, didn't get into the hype. He's going to be big time.'

Besides Herro's 40 points, Taylor finished with 17 for the Falcons. North was led by Wieczorek with 23 points and McDonald with 21, including 19 in the second half.

'McDonald is up and coming,' Katula said. 'He's a special kid. He's going to be our focal point going into next season.'