The experience from a state-tournament run is an asset that’s nearly impossible to quantify.
Does it result in points? Does it translate into defense? Does it help a team turn the ball over less or rebound more?
That’s hard to say. But for the Lourdes Academy girls basketball team, it can be measured by at least one victory.
The Knights had to overcome a scattered, disjointed first 20 minutes but showed the poise and calm of a seasoned squad in rallying for a 48-35 win over a pesky Manitowoc Lutheran squad in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal on Friday night.
“We were down and I thought to myself, I’m a senior, this is not going to be my last game,” Laura McDermott said. “We weren’t executing in the first half, so we knew what we had to do and we came out and I told my teammates we are not going to lose this game and we did what we had to do and ended up winning.”
Lourdes trailed by as many as eight points in the first half as they committed 12 turnovers in the first two quarters and gave up multiple second-chance opportunities to the Lancers.
Even Maddy Reed’s putback in the final 18 seconds of the first half only trimmed the Lancers’ lead to 19-15 at intermission and Manitowoc Lutheran continued to lead by four, 2½ minutes into the third quarter.
“I think it was just the excitement of the postseason,” Lourdes coach Ali Fett said. “They’ve been looking forward to this all year. Everything up until now has been a huge prep, it’s been stepping stones. This is their finale and this is what they have been waiting for.
“And I think that with the adrenalin on their homecourt, the excitement, is what kind of what got us off to a slow — or too fast — start.”
Suddenly, it was a whole different Knights’ team on the floor.
Instead of sputtering on offense, Lourdes reeled off a run 12 straight points, sparked by four points from McDermott and back-to-back 3-pointers by Jessica Roberts and Reed.
“In the second half, our defense turned into our offense and that’s really what we want to do,” Reed said. “We really started to stick to the gameplan (in the second half).”
McDermott, Roberts and Reed — all key members of the Knights’ state-qualifying squad last season — combined for 24 of Lourdes’ final 29 points.
“The experience that those three have grown up with has been amazing,” Fett said. “It’s huge.”
And it was the state experience they drew from.
“I guess that experience really helps us all,” Reed said. “Some of the younger girls weren’t on that team, but they watched us.”
McDermott, who finished with a season-high 12 points, scored on a drive late in the third quarter as the Knights took a 31-25 lead into the final period.
The senior then scored four points in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter to help extend the lead further.
“That was a rarity, especially this season,” McDermott said of her scoring output. “We had Lauren (Fischer) out for awhile and she’s one of our main scorers so the last couple of games I tried to step it up offensively and tonight, it just all came together for me.”
The Lancers (13-11), who got 18 points from MacKayla Menges, trimmed the lead to six twice in the fourth quarter, including cutting the margin to 41-35 with 2:50 left to play.
But a 3-pointer from Lauren Fischer — playing for the first time since January because of an injury — a basket by Reed and two free throws from McDermott sealed the win and sent the Knights into tonight’s regional final against Reedsville.
“It feels great,” McDermott said. “We got the butterflies out and we’re ready for (tonight).”
Notes: Lutheran lost starter Jordan Menges to an injury in the first quarter. … The Knights missed their first nine 3-pointers, but finished by hitting four of their last 10. … Lourdes outrebounded Manitowoc Lutheran 34-22.
Game ball: Reed, for her 17-point, 11-rebound performance, which helped keep the Knights in the game during the sluggish first half.
Number game: 12, the number of turnovers in the first half for Lourdes, compared to just five made field goals.
Man. Lutheran 11 8 6 10 — 35
Lourdes Acad. 8 7 16 17 — 48
Manitowoc Lutheran: Yagodinski 2, Radue 3, Neumeyer 8, M. Menges 18, Barthels 2, Machut 2. 3-pointers: 4 (Neumeyer 2, M. Menges, Radue). FTs: 5-8. Total fouls: 14.
Lourdes Academy: Combs 7, Reed 17, McDermott 12, Godfroy 2, Spanbauer 2, Roberts 5, Fischer 3. 3-pointers: 3 (Reed, Roberts, Fischer). FTs: 9-15. Total fouls: 11.
Steve Clark: (920) 426-6659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.