Making the drive to Sheboygan seems like it takes forever.
The trip back from Sheboygan on Saturday for the Kimberly girls’ basketball team may have taken what seemed like forever and a day, given how suddenly its brilliant season ended.
Arrowhead’s Ally May finished the Papermakers’ season when she hit a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Warhawks a 43-41 victory in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final at Sheboygan South High School.
“We planned to do 14-down so Vanessa (Voss) could get to the hoop,” May said about the final play that started with four seconds left on the clock after a Kimberly turnover. “I saw my girl collapse on Vanessa. I just teed up, she (Voss) gave me the ball and it went in. It just happened so fast.”
Just as fast Kimberly’s season was done.
“It’s so hard because the kids worked so hard,” Kimberly coach Troy Cullen said. “They gave it everything they had. There’s nothing really you can say other than I believe in these kids and how hard they worked.
“Down the stretch, things did just not go our way. That’s the game of basketball sometimes. I told them to keep their heads high. They’ve got a lot to be proud of.”
Kimberly started the fourth quarter with a seemingly comfortable nine-point lead after Frankie Wurtz found Jenna Smarzinski open in the right corner for a three-pointer to end the third quarter.
Shots in the fourth quarter were hard to come by, with the Papermakers attempting only three.
“We wanted to attack,” said Cullen. “It was just a matter of doing that. They were pressuring out on top. We just felt that we needed to attack the rim more than we did and we didn’t. We talked about that but we wanted to work the clock in some respects, but the bottom line is we still needed to be offensive-minded.”
After Kimberly shot 50 percent (10-of-20) in the first half, Arrowhead (19-8) needed to be better defensively in the second half.
“We knew that Kimberly won against De Pere because they shot and lit the whole gym up,” May said. “They can all drive, too. They’re just an all-around great team. We had to keep them in front of us and still contest the shot. We just really picked that up the second half.”
Fourth-quarter free throws, which proved crucial in the sectional semifinal win over De Pere when Kimberly made 12 of 18, would not fall. Kimberly made five of eight but the three misses were on the front end of bonus situations.
Arrowhead’s shots, meanwhile, started to fall. After making nine of 27 shots during the first three quarters, the Warhawks hit seven of 10 in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been down in some very intense games,” Arrowhead’s Maggie Doleshcy said. “Against Sussex Hamilton, we were down by nine. You just have to keep your head and that’s what we seniors have learned. You have to keep your head and be calm for the rest of the team.”
Arrowhead will play Mukwonago in a Division 1 state semifinal game at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon on Friday.
The Papermakers? They can only think of how close they came to playing this Friday.
“This is a good group of kids but this just hurts right now,” Cullen said. “That’s the biggest thing right now. Our two seniors (Elly Pirman and Alison Miron) are excellent ballplayers and we need to learn from situations like this and keep getting better.”
Arrowhead: Miller 10, Smith 12, Doleshcy 12, Voss 2, May 7. Totals: 16 6-8 43. Three-pointers: Miller 3, Doleshcy, May. Fouls: 17.
Kimberly: Wurtz 18, McMorrow 6, Smarzinski 7, Pirman 2, Hetto 8. Totals: 14 6-14 41. Three-pointers: Wurtz 3, McMorrow 2, Smarzinski, Hetto. Fouls: 15.
— Jim Oskola: 920-993-1000, ext. 230, or email@example.com