MADISON -- It's been awhile since the Central High School boys basketball team has played for a state championship.
Thirty-seven years to be exact and 92 years since its won the whole thing.
Tonight, the Red Raiders hope to do what the 1979 squad, nicknamed the “Special Ks,” fell two points short of doing.
It’s a 1-vs.-2 matchup at the Kohl Center at 6:35 p.m., as Central (25-2) plays Cedarburg (25-2).
Back in ‘79, the Red Raiders fell 67-65 to Milwaukee Tech (writeup and boxscores below).
In that game, two Tech players combined to score 45 points, led by John Mack’s 29.
And that’s what Central could see tonight against Cedarburg.
John Diener, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, is averaging 21.9 points, while teammate Jordan Johnson, a 6-5 senior guard, is at 19.3 points.
Diener carried Cedarburg to a 73-70 double-overtime win Friday scoring 46. He was 16 of 29 from the field (5-for-8 from beyond the arc) but just 9-for-15 from the free-throw line.
That made up for Johnson, who struggled to get 17 points, going 3-for-10 from the field (2 of 5 from deep) but did go 9-for-10 from the line.
This trip to second consecutive trip to state, and 16th in school history, for Central. But the Red Raiders went nine consecutive times in the 1920s, winning it all in 1925 behind coach L.R. Finley.
In 1979, that Special K squad nearly won the Class A title coached by Gary Robarge.
Tonight, it’s Central coach Todd Fergot’s chance, led by Wisconsin Badgers commit, Kobe King, who is averaging 27 points.
King scored 28 points Friday - 21 of those in the second half. The 6-4 guard was 10 of 17 from the field, 2-for-4 from deep and added six rebounds and five assists.
Teammate Bailey Kale, who will play for Division II Minnesota-Duluth next season and is averaging 17.7 points this season, filled up the boxscore against Waunakee. The senior had 11 points (5 of 10 FGs), nine rebounds and seven assists.
Those two struggled in last year’s 72-45 semifinal loss to eventual state champions, Kaukauna.
King was 2-for-15 from the field, scoring 9 points. Kale was 6-for-23 and 0 of 9 from beyond the arc, scoring 13.