For the Assumption girls, winning a regional title moved them one step closer to their ultimate goal.
The Royals used their patented full court trapping press to wear down a young, but tenacious Loyal squad, rolling to a 54-31 victory and their fifth regional title in the past six years.
Assumption (24-1), will face Plum City, a 58-40 winner over Eleva-Strum, Thursday in the Division 5 sectional semifinals at Neillsville at a time to be determined.
“This was a step,” Assumption coach Job Birkhauser said. “This season has been several steps towards working to our goals. Winning the conference was a step, so was tonight and we have two more steps to go to be where we want to be.”
Loyal, which used its tough full court press to get past Port Edwards on Friday night, had trouble with Assumption’s constant pressure, turning the ball over 27 times to just 11 for Assumption.
“They did to us what we did to Port Edwards,” Loyal coach Mike Rueth said. “We had a lot of turnovers. I’m proud of the our effort and how we played. The score doesn’t indicate it, but we played one of our best games of the year tonight.”
Assumption was able to gain its advantage in the second quarter, thanks to the hot hand of Jenny Wanta, who scored nine of her 11 points in the period.
The 14-point quarter also gave the Royals a double digit lead that would get no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
“In first quarter they really got after us and I don’t think we were ready for it,” Wanta said. “We knew we had to run our offense and be patient for the shots that our offense is designed for and we got those shots in the second quarter.
“This was a great start to our push in the playoffs,” Wanta added. “We have to come back to practice Monday and really push for it. We’re going to have to bring our A-game next week because there are a lot of talented teams out there.”
Assumption jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter, but Loyal stormed back to close the game to 12-8 at the end of the first eight minutes. The Royals opened the second with a 5-0 run and never looked back as they built a double digit lead.
“I’m proud of our girls and If they put the effort in the offseason I think we can make it back and maybe get this match-up agains next year,” Rueth said.
LOYAL: Jaelyn Young 5, Jordyn Pieper 3, Taylre Wilke 3, Missy Benz 12, Devyn Schoonover 5, Jaedyn Pieper 1, Katie Hoeser 1. Totals: 8-33 1-18 31.
ASSUMPTION: Jenny Wanta 11, Mary Sigler 19, Gena Grundhoffer 9, Brittney Birkhauser 2, Hannah Skibba 5, Macie Zurfluh 2, Jane Newman 2, Maddie Hohl 3, Joelynn Frisch 2. Totals: 20-47 12-16 54.
3-pointers: Loyal 2-5 (Jo.Pieper, Schoonover); Assumption 2-7 (Wanta, Hohl).
Records: Assumption 24-1; Loyal 16-9.