For people who are hazy, unsure or need a visual on what exactly a clutch performance is, Lauren Anklam’s display on Friday night at the D.C. Everest High School gym was a perfect example.
Anklam did everything for the D.C. Everest girls basketball team down the stretch, scoring the final eight points for Everest and willing the Evergreens to a 44-40 victory over conference rival Marshfield in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game.
The third-seeded Evergreens play at No. 2 seed Chippewa Falls in a regional final at 7 p.m. today.
“We were in the bonus situation, so I knew I had to be aggressive and as a senior I had to step up and play like this is my last game, because (it could have been),” Anklam said. “I was feeling it and I just tried to make things happen.”
She certainly made things happen. With the game hanging in the balance and the scoreboard showing Everest holding a slim 36-35 advantage, Anklam was the show from that point forward. After a layup, Marshfield’s Caitlin Michaelis pulled Marshfield within one again.
Anklam then weaved her way through traffic and scored another layup. After that, she snared a rebound off a Tigers miss and stepped to the free-throw line and calmly sank 4 of 6 free throws, including the clincher with 18.2 seconds left, giving the Evergreens a four-point lead.
“She had been struggling,” Everest coach Matt Bullis said. “But she is a great player and great things happen to good people. She works her tail off and I am just so happy for her.”
Anklam was compelled to take over, as a four-year varsity player and the only one to experience a playoff win on the roster. In the process, she gave Bullis his first postseason win as head coach.
“We were down in the fourth, but Lauren and (Briana) Ziolkowski, our two seniors wanted it,” the coach said. “It’s nice to get my first (playoff) win, but this is about the kids.”
Anklam’s performance nearly never took place, as she left the floor with 4:09 remaining after picking up her fourth foul. After Haley Kroll gave Everest the lead for good on a free throw with just over three minutes left, Anklam returned and 18 seconds later put Everest up 38-35 with 2:25 remaining.
“I just wanted to be in the game and helped my team. I trust my teammates, I just wanted to be out there,” Anklam said
“This means the world to me and this team,” Anklam added. “We hadn’t won a playoff game in three years. To do it as a senior, I can’t even put it into words. I know what it feels like to lose in the first game of the playoffs, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”
Anklam finished with 22 points, half of the Evergreens’ total. Kroll added 10, including eight in the first half.
“My team battled and I am proud of them,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said. “They handed it to us the last time we were here and we could of folded, but we battled. Anklam just took over, made plays and did what a good senior does. She won the game for them.”
Everest held a 17-7 first half advantage, but Darian Molter led the Tigers on an 11-1 run to end the half and knot the score at 18-18.
EVERGREENS 44, TIGERS 40
MARSHFIELD (40): Darian Molter 16, Liz Zuelke 6, Caitlin Michaelis 12, Ellie Fehrenbach 6.
D.C. EVEREST (44): Hannah Tipple 2, Haley Kroll 10, Molly Theiss 3, Lauren Anklam 22, Taylor Hodell 7.
3-pointers: Marshfield 4, (Molter 2, Michaels 2); Everest 1, (Kroll).
Records: D.C. Everest 17-6; Marshfield 15-8.