Appleton North girls wrap up FVA title

Appleton North girls wrap up FVA title

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Appleton North girls wrap up FVA title

APPLETON – A big ol’ punch in the face was exactly what the Appleton North girls’ basketball team needed Friday.

That’s what Hortonville provided — figuratively, of course — as the Polar Bears pushed the undefeated and top-ranked Lightning to the limit before North gutted out a 61-58 Fox Valley Association win.

The win secured the FVA title for the Lightning, its first since 2011. Appleton North (21-0, 17-0 FVA) reached the state semifinals last season and is ranked No. 1 in both the latest Associated Press and wissports.net polls.

“This was the game that we knew A, we had to have it to win conference outright, and B, we knew they would give us the best test,” North coach Joe Russom said. “I felt we had a little slippage in some of our play. We took some plays off over the past few weeks and we really needed someone to come out and crack us in the teeth and (Hortonville) did it.”

North looked to be completely in control through the first six minutes of the second half. The Lightning exploded on a 19-3 run to start the second half and was in complete control following back-to-back 3-pointers from Kari Brekke and Kalen Klitzke.

A timeout by Hortonville (15-4, 13-3) followed soon after and the Polar Bears responded by upping the pressure on defense and going to junior shooting guard Shay Frederick.

Frederick scored 14 of her game-high 24 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers. Baskets from Frederick, Morgan Allen and Olivia Griesbach pulled the Polar Bears to within 55-53 with 1:58 left.

“They went into that trapping zone and we got flustered, myself included,” North point guard Kari Brekke said. “We kind of went away from our own offense and style of play that got us on our run.

“Once Joe calmed us down, we started playing like ourselves again and our mental training really kicked in. We didn’t let their crowd and energy affect us.”

Another 3-pointer from Frederick kept Hortonville within 60-58, but a free throw from Callie Pohlman finished the scoring as the Polar Bears were whistled for a charge in the closing seconds to ice the game.

“I think, if anything, their comeback and their run was very good for us,” Brekke said. “We haven’t really had a team throw a punch back at us. We knew they were capable of doing it. Being able to handle their run and handle their pressure and still come out with the ‘W,’ that’s huge, especially with the kind of atmosphere the playoffs bring. We’re going to go up against teams with bigs like Morgan Allen and guards that can shoot the heck out of the ball like Shay.”

Allen scored 18 points and had eight rebounds for Hortonville, ranked No. 8 in Division 2 by the AP this past week.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of our team for responding,” Hortonville coach Celeste Ratka said. “But that shows the growth and the journey and how far they’ve come. We’re a resilient group and we’ve battled through adversity and I’m so proud of them. We started competing and playing with a little bit of an edge.”

Brekke and Sydney Levy each had 16 points to lead Appleton North. Paige Schabo added 11 points, while Levy had nine rebounds and Brekke pulled down six.

It was the third conference title for the Lightning.

“These kids have worked hard,” Russom said. “We did things different this summer than anybody else and the kids bought into it and it paid some dividends. I credit my kids. If they don’t listen to me, we don’t get this ‘W.’ I’m fortunate that I have good youth programs and good youth coaches. It’s taken us awhile to get to this point. This was the team that a few years back we felt could put it together. You could see the pieces. They’re great kids.”

Hortonville

23

35

— 58

Appleton North

25

36

— 61

Hortonville: Frederick 24, Griesbach 5, Nelson 9, Walter 2, Allen 18. Totals 19 14-18 58. Three-pointers: Frederick 5, Nelson. Fouls: 21.

Appleton North: Brekke 16, Squier 2, Laux 2, Pohlman 7, Klitzke 7, Levy 16, Schabo 11. Totals 22 12-18 61. Three-pointers: Brekke 2, Klitzke, Levy, Schabo. Fouls: 22.

Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-7191 or rarguello@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @PCRicardo

FVA STANDINGS

Conf.

All

Appleton North

17-0

21-0

Hortonville

13-3

15-4

Appleton West

12-5

16-5

Kimberly

10-6

12-7

Fond du Lac

8-7

10-9

Appleton East

7-9

8-11

Neenah

7-10

10-11

Oshkosh North

6-10

9-11

Kaukauna

1-15

2-18

Oshkosh West

0-16

1-19

Ricardo on WFRV show

USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin sports reporter Ricardo Arguello will be the featured guest on WFRV’s High School Sports Xtra show with host Lily Zhao at 10:35 p.m. Saturday. Topics will include Kaukauna wrestling, Hortonville and Appleton North girls’ basketball, Kimberly and Kaukauna boys’ basketball, Freedom girls’ basketball and Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha boys’ hockey.

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