Brenna Heise wears No. 30 and nearly matched the number on her jersey with her fabulous offensive production Friday night.
Heise turned in a dominant performance, scorching neighboring rival Hortonville with a career-high 29 points to push New London’s winning streak to 57 games with a 63-35 Bay Conference girls’ basketball rout.
“I’m glad that girl is on my team,” said New London coach Andrea Flease. “She’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. She was on a roll with 29 points, but was out there setting screens and looking to pass first. That’s what I love about this team.”
A smooth 5-foot-11 senior forward who has accepted a Division II basketball scholarship to Michigan Tech University, Heise is averaging 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. She did most of the damage against the Polar Bears inside the lane with athletic slashes to the hoop, but also nailed some mid-range jumpers.
“I had a lot of mismatches in the post and my teammates were able to find me,” said Heise, the lone returning starter from last year’s state championship team. “This is a good win for us. Hortonville is kind of like our cross-town rival, so you never want to lose to them. And they’re up there pretty high in the standings.”
The much-improved Polar Bears (9-5 overall, 7-3 Bay) are in third place in the Bay behind Oconto Falls and the league-leading Bulldogs (15-0, 10-0) and hoped to challenge the two-time defending Division II state champs.
But the night again belonged to the Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 among Division 2 teams in the state’s Associated Press poll.
New London seized control early and sent an immediate message to Hortonville that an upset wasn’t going to happen. Heise got rolling quickly with eight first-quarter points and the Bulldogs charged to a 21-4 lead heading into the second quarter.
Several of New London’s early points came off offensive rebounds and pressure-related turnovers.
“The first quarter was the best basketball I’ve seen played in a long time,” said Flease. “It wasn’t done with skill. It was done with determination and want-to. We were getting one offensive rebound after another.”
Hortonville bounced back in the second quarter and appeared ready to make a game of it. Junior guard Heidi Huebner drilled three three-pointers and Margo Diedrich hit another to cut New London’s lead to 29-20 late in the half.
But New London junior Cambria Fitzgerald scored on a nice move inside the lane to spark a 6-0 surge that closed the half and gave the Bulldogs a commanding 35-20 lead at the intermission.
“I thought we let up a little in the second quarter and got a little lazy on defense,” Flease said. “But those things are going to happen. We got back to our defensive game plan in the second half and I thought we were strong with the basketball.”
New London smashed the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Polar Bears 14-4, and coasted in uncontested.
Heise probably would have surpassed the 30-point mark, but Flease removed her with 6:19 remaining in the game.
“It’s a fun team to play on,” said Heise. “Defense is our focus. We want to pressure, get inside their heads, frustrate teams and cause turnovers. And those turnovers lead to layups. One thing leads to another and we just go off.”
Huebner topped the Polar Bears with nine points.
New London: C. Pethke 3, Schroeder 2, Fitzgerald 6, Halvorson 2, Schlieve 5, Heise 29, Schmidt 2, M. Roland 8, L. Roland 6. Totals 25 12-18 63. Three-pointer: C. Pethke. Fouls: 13.
Hortonville: Dunathan 4, Diedrich 7, Inglese 2, Huebner 9, Sullivan 2, Hoerning 4, Winterfeldt 2, Lippert 3, Dougherty 2. Totals 14 3-8 35. Three-pointers: Huebner 3, Diedrich, Fouls: 19.
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or email@example.com; On Twitter @twfroberg