Forcing their hand

Forcing their hand

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Forcing their hand

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Members of the Wisconsin Rapids girls basketball team got a pretty good idea what it’s like to try to pass a ball around an octopus Friday night.

Actually, her name is Heather Woyak and she’s the 6-foot point person for the 1-3-1 half-court trap employed by Stevens Point Area Senior High.

The long-limbed senior must have looked like she had eight arms and legs after deflecting too many passes to count in the Panthers’ 48-35 win over Wisconsin Rapids in Wisconsin Valley Conference action.

“When you have a 6-footer up top (in the zone) as athletic as Woyak, it’s going to cause you some problems,” Raiders coach Dan Hancock said. “That’s a good defense for them, and has them playing to their strengths.”

SPASH turned to the trap midway through the first quarter, and Woyak spent much of the next 20 minutes making life miserable for the Rapids ballhandlers.

She wouldn’t let them throw the ball over or around her, and either Woyak grabbed the steal or a desperation pass was picked off by one of her teammates, often igniting a fast break.

An 8-1 run to close out the opening quarter sparked the Panthers, who broke the game open with an 11-2 spurt to start the second quarter, enabling them to build a 26-7 cushion.

“Getting off to a good start is something we’ve done our last two games,” SPASH coach Dave Hauser said. “That’s definitely how we need to start a game, getting some steals from Heather. That’s why she’s at the top of the zone.”

Woyak scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the second quarter as the Panthers forced Rapids into nine turnovers.

Nicki Hauser, who scored the first seven points for the Panthers, added four points in the second quarter to help them build their lead to 31-12 at the break. She finished with 13 points.

“Nicki is someone who will be needed to develop as another scorer for us. She was the one that got open there,” her dad and coach said. “When you get a lead, you don’t get sloppy and don’t accept things at that time you don’t accept when the game is close.”

The advantage would grow to as much as 24 points early in the fourth quarter.

While the Panthers might have thought the game was over, Rapids never quit and put together a nice stretch of basketball over the closing minutes to close the gap substantially.

The charge actually began in the third quarter when the Raiders did a better job of handling the trap, and then making SPASH pay by looking to score at the other end.

Maisie Langholff scored six of her team-high eight points after halftime. Allie Paitel and Kendra Lysne added seven points apiece.

“I can’t complain about how we finished the game. I thought we played scared to start, but I was proud of their effort,” Hancock said. “We knew it was going to be a tough task. Hats off to Point.”

Wis. Rapids 5 7 10 13 35
SPASH 15 16 11 6 48

Wisconsin Rapids (35): Allie Paitel 7, Maisie Langholff 8, Shelby Steinke 4, Willow Eastling 4, Jennie Nicolaus 1, Victoria Hansen 4, Kendra Lysne 7.

SPASH (48): Nicki Hauser 13, Taylor Smola 5, McKenzie Taggatz 2, Heather Woyak 20, Haley Kolbeck 4, Abby Bohanski 4.

3-pointers: Wisconsin Rapids 1 (Lysne), SPASH 3 (Hauser, Woyak 2).

Records: SPASH 4-2, 2-0 Valley; Wisconsin Rapids 2-3, 0-2 Valley.

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