PORTAGE — Ellie Droste didn’t exactly have expectations when she was younger of playing varsity basketball as a freshman.
But since getting the opportunity, Droste has become more and more excited about the possibilities that were ahead this season.
Droste sensed something special brewing for the No. 6-ranked Pirates as she settled into her role on varsity.
And she helped P-W add to what has been a special postseason journey Tuesday evening.
Droste was part of a balanced attack for the Pirates, who rolled to a 43-19 victory over Schoolcraft in a Class C state quarterfinal at Portage Northern High School.
The victory sends P-W (23-2) to the Breslin Center for a state semifinal Thursday afternoon, and Droste and teammates aren’t completely surprised to be in this spot.
“Once we started practice and once we had our first games, I just got more and more excited and I got confident,” Droste said. “I realized we may be able to make it to the Breslin. Now we are here today getting ready to go to Breslin.”
Emily Spitzley had 10 points and Hannah Spitzley and Droste each added eight points as the Pirates won their 13th straight and advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2002.
“It’s such a tough road to get this far,” P-W coach Steve Eklund said. “There’s so little room for error. Every game for us has been a tough test. This is five tough games in a row. You’ve got to play really well and we’ve done that so far.”
The Pirates got off to a strong start Tuesday that Droste said was key as they posted their most lopsided victory during their state tournament run. P-W, which has won four of its five playoff games by double figures, jumped out to a 13-3 lead and never looked back.
P-W held Schoolcraft (20-6) to just three field goals in the opening half and allowed just 10 points after the intermission while closing out the win to secure a spot at Breslin Center.
“We’re just clicking at the perfect time and I’m absolutely so excited,” Emily Spitzley said.
Eklund is also excited, but knows there is still a bit more work to do as the Pirates try to cap their tourney run with a state championship.
“I just got done talking to the girls about staying humble and to be hungry,” Eklund said. “We can’t just be satisfied because we get to play at Breslin Center. We’ve got goals – one at a time. It’s get back to work tomorrow. We just don’t want to be satisfied right now, but it’s a neat experience.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.