For awhile, it seemed it would happen again.
Another sectional championship, another trip to State. Something the Oostburg girls basketball program has grown accustomed to over the last decade.
But the seniors of East Troy would have none of it, leading from start-to-finish in a 54-38 win over the Flying Dutchmen in a WIAA Division 3 sectional final at Arrowhead Saturday afternoon.
The loss snapped Oostburg’s streak of six straight trips to State, and a string of eight consecutive wins in sectional finals.
“I told the girls streaks end all the time,” Oostburg coach Lisa Immel said. “Scoring streaks, win streaks, they end all the time. They have nothing to be ashamed of as far as that goes. This is a team that should hold their head high, they did a lot of things that I don’t think a lot of people thought they were going to be able to do after the load that we lost last year.”
The Trojans (25-1) broke out to an early 13-2 lead, and led 25-11 before Oostburg (21-5) showed it wouldn’t go quietly.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Maranda Huibregtse cut the lead to six, and by halftime, the Dutch were down just five at 30-25.
“These kids have a ton of heart, and I have confidence that they can get out of anything,” Immel said. “But when you’re playing a high-powered team like that, that shoots well and handles the ball so well, it’s extra difficult to (come back).”
What didn’t help Oostburg’s cause was Abby VanStelle’s foul trouble. The 6-foot-1 senior was supposed to help protect the lane, but picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter.
“That wasn’t a good thing (the foul trouble). My job was to sit in the lane and make sure nobody got to the basket,” VanStelle said. “It was kind of hard, because I don’t want to back down, but I had to sometimes.”
“She’s 20 points of our offense so without her in the middle, that gives a team an opportunity to cover us up a little bit better on drives and outside shots and those things,” Immel said. “We’re a different team without Abby in the middle of the paint for us.”
With her fellow senior no longer on the floor, Jocelyn Stemper tried to will Oostburg to State in the second half.
Stemper scored 10 of her team-high 17 points after halftime, including all of the Dutchmen’s seven points in the third quarter. Her 3 with 1:28 left in the third made it 33-32 in favor of East Troy.
“I didn’t want the season to end, so therefore I kind of pushed a little harder,” Stemper said.
“It’s a senior stepping up for a senior,” Immel said. “I think Jocelyn just dug in and you could see the look in her eye.”
The Trojans knocked down enough free throws in the final quarter, however, to keep the Dutch at bay and advance to their second straight state tournament.
“I wish it wasn’t over; I love this team and I hope they can do really good next year,” Stemper said.
“Playing sports in high school has been the best experience of my life,” VanStelle said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now. It’s going to be rough but I’m going to really miss my team. Being a part of Oostburg was one of the best things I’ve ever had to be a part of all the team I’ve played on here. It’s really a blessing to play here.”
East Troy…20 10 5 19 — 54
Oostburg…7 18 7 6 — 38
East Troy — An. Oleson 7, Al. Oleson 17, Schultz 2, Gaspervich 15, Atchison 8, Morris 3, Dodge 2. 3-pt: Atchison 2, Al. Oleson 1, Gaspervich 1. FT: 20-30. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Atchison.
Oostburg — Mara. Huibregtse 13, Hranicka 3, Mari. Huibregtse 3, Stemper 17, VanStelle 2. 3-pt: Stemper 3, Mara. Huibregtse 2, Mari. Huibregtse 1. FT: 8-13. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: Mara. Huibregtse, VanStelle.