Neillsville streak ends as focus moves to next season

Neillsville streak ends as focus moves to next season

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Neillsville streak ends as focus moves to next season

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GREEN BAY

The details are easy to remember.

First, there was the excitement of watching Jenny Lindner score 22 points to help the Neillsville girls basketball team rally from five points down to lead by four at halftime.

This so concerned the opposing coach that he wrote “22” on a board in the team locker room. He then cautioned his East Troy players against letting Lindner double — or triple — that point total in the second half.

“The way she was going, I thought she’d score 66 on us,” East Troy coach Jeff Brown said.

For some, the talk of the weekend at the Resch Center was the 54-game win streak Neillsville took into WIAA Division 3 state tournament. A victory for Neillsville would have put the Warriors up against last year’s Divison 3 champions.

It would have pitted two state champions against each other, as Neillsville won the Division 4 title in 2012, before it moved up one enrollment division for this season.

That showdown will not happen — the streak ended Friday. East Troy won 68-56 and will play for the title Saturday against Kewaunee.

Neillsville fans had grown accustomed to seeing the Warriors win game after game after game after game.

The Warriors have lost only twice in the three seasons since Lindner, a junior with multiple NCAA scholarship offers, joined the Neillsville varsity.

“I can tell you more about those two losses than I can tell you about any of those 78 wins or so,” Neillsville coach John Gaier said. “I guess that’s just an issue that coaches have.”

Not just coaches.

“I’ll remember the losses,” Lindner said. “I think we’re going to start a streak again. We’re going to learn from this. We know what it feels like now and we don’t want to feel it again.”

They’ll remember the details. They’ll remember how East Troy switched to an aggressive zone defense that bumped Neillsville out of its offensive rhythm. They’ll remember how Lindner, who scored more than half of her points in the first half from the free-throw line, had very limited chances to score in the second half.

But they’ll also remember the good times. To win a state championship and extend a winning streak long enough to return to the big stage is no easy feat, even if Neillsville made it look easy by winning many games by 20 and 30 points.

“We never really did talk about the streak,” Gaier said. “We talked about practicing and what we need to work on that night and playing the next game. But when you look back, the thrill really is the kids you get to spend time with every day, and the streak is just kind of sugar coating on that.”

Lindner has one more high school season left. She led the team this season in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, 3-pointers and free throws. There’s a good chance she will have the same impact next season.

Until Friday, Neillsville had the same number of gold state championship trophies over the last two-plus seasons as it did losses. The Warriors added a second loss Friday.

They still can earn another gold ball next season. That’s a detail worth remembering.

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Neillsville streak ends as focus moves to next season

The details are easy to remember.

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