Marawood Conference rivals Assumption and Newman Catholic will be playing the first WIAA state tournament game at the Resch Center in a Division 5 semifinal game. Newman was a state semifinalist last year. Here are keys to the game and what you need to know for each team to advance to the championship.
Who: Assumption (26-1) vs. Newman Catholic (20-7)
When: 1:35 p.m. today
Radio: 1230 AM (WXCO), 1320 AM (WFHR)
Where: Green Bay (Resch Center)
What you need to know: The Cardinals are making their fourth straight state tourney appearance, falling to Owen-Withee in the semifinals last year. Kim Steif leads Newman in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game, while Madison Tubbs — the lone returning starter from and Brianna Jankowski are right behind averaging nine points. Assumption’s last WIAA state tournament appearance was in 2005. The Royals lost to Barnveld in the D4 semifinals. Mary Sigler averages 17.6 points per game and is helped in the scoring department by Gena Grundhoffer, who averages 11.6 points a game. Assumption’s lone loss this year was to Newman on the Cardinals’ home floor.
How Assumption will win: Since there are no secrets between the two teams, playing Royal-style basketball will be the biggest key for Assumption. That means playing stingy defense. When the teams face off at Assumption, the Royals bolted to a fast start on offense, forcing Newman to play from behind the entire game. Each team won at home, so a neutral venue makes it even on paper, but Assumption is confident after its regular season double-digit win, 60-45 over the Cardinals. At this point in the season, confidence and focus count for a lot and the Royals have tunnel vision right now.
How Newman will win: The Cardinals’ nine-game winning streak has been on the improvements on the defensive end as the team has allowed 50 or more points only once during that stretch, coming in a win over then-undefeated Assumption. The Cardinals do not have a lot of height, but have rebounded well in the postseason and look to create points of turnovers caused by their full-court press.
Potential championship opponents: South Shore (26-0) faces Barneveld (26-1) in the other semifinal. South Shore is making its third state appearance and first since 2004. The Cardinals are led by Megan Gustafson, the state’s leading scorer (31.1 ppg) and her sister, Emily, is the state’s top rebounder (17.8 rpg). Janice Anderson, sister of former Badgers’ standout, Jolene, is among the state leaders with 8.1 assists and 5.5 steals per game. Barneveld knocked off defending state champion Heritage Christian in the sectional final and are led by veteran coach Jim Myers, who has a 641-136 mark in 36 years with the program. Rachel Slaney is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.1 points per game.