Prep girls basketball: Top-ranked Neillsville set for Division 3 semifinal challenge

Prep girls basketball: Top-ranked Neillsville set for Division 3 semifinal challenge


Prep girls basketball: Top-ranked Neillsville set for Division 3 semifinal challenge



Neillsville girls basketball coach John Gaier has a simple rule for his players when it comes to dealing with the result of a game.

Regardless of the outcome, by midnight that day, it’s time to move on and start preparing for the next opponent.

It has worked to near perfection for the Warriors, who have posted an 104-2 record in a business-like fashion over the past four seasons.

But there are those games that are tough to let go of — like the 68-56 loss to a hot-shooting East Troy team in the WIAA Division 3 state semifinals last March in the first year the girls state tournament was held at the Resch Center.

The loss was the first of the season for the Warriors, snapped a 54-game winning streak ended their hopes of a second-straight state championship.

“That one probably stung a little longer than midnight,” Gaier said.

Added senior forward Katelyn Crothers, “I still haven’t let it go. That was my drive to get back in the gym and work this summer. That’s why we’re here right now. All of us are determined to win the state championship.”

East Troy hit 11 3-pointers against Neillsville, and the loss was a source of motivation the for Warriors (26-0) who face Brodhead in a state semifinal matchup Friday morning at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

“We talk all the time about, ‘Don’t lose games. If you get beat, make sure someone beats you. Make sure someone plays better than you did.’ That was the case with East Troy,” Gaier said. “It was a tough loss, but these kids were resilient and they bounced back. Their focus really was, ‘What are we going to do next to get better?’

“We knew it was a marathon and not a sprint and we didn’t want to overlook any games in the season, and I think the kids did a pretty good job of focusing.”

That focus has the Warriors in a third-straight state appearance, and in a challenging matchup that should be one of the highlights on the second day of the tournament.

Neillsville and Brodhead (26-0) were ranked first and second, respectively, among Division 3 teams in the final Associated Press state poll of the regular season.

It’s the first state appearance for the Cardinals.

“Neillsville has plenty of experience at the state tournament. Both groups will probably be a little nervous, but if we can settle in, hopefully we have a shot,” Broadhead coach Brad Pickett said. “They’re not going to make mistakes and hurt themselves. We’re going to have to play fundamentally sound and lean on our defense.”

Both Neillsville and Brodhead won their respective conference championships for the fourth straight year, and are led by senior players who will be playing for Division I college programs.

Carly Mohns, a 6-foot-1 forward who is headed to Iowa, is averaging 17.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for Brodhead.

“I played her in AAU tournaments I think twice before,” said Neillsville’s Jenny Lindner, who is heading to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “She is a very aggressive player. She can hit an outside shot, she can shot-fake and drive.

“She’s a solid defender and she can rebound. She’s an all-around great player,” Lindner added. “Hopefully we can get someone to match up with her and keep her from scoring much.”

The teams met in a summer league matchup in which both Lindner and Mohns were absent, and Neillsville lost in double overtime.

“They’re kind of like us. They have a Division I player and kids around her that play good basketball. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us,” Gaier said. “We going to have to make sure that we stay in front of (Mohns), but still get out on the other shooters because they can hurt you, too.

“Their defense is probably underestimated. They play very sound (man-to-man) defense, and we’re going to have to take care of the ball and get into our offense.”

Starting lineups

Brodhead (26-0) ppg rpg
Carly Mohns, sr., F 17.7 10.1
Rachel Heller, sr., F 10.3 4.5
Meg Duffield, sr., G 8.1 2.4
Amber Pickel, so., F 6.2 4.9
Kylie Moe, so., G 10.7 3.8
Neillsville (26-0) ppg rpg
Jenny Lindner, sr., G 16.6 5.3
Katelyn Crothers, sr., F 12.2 4.1
Wendy Barth, sr., F 5.8 3.2
Molly Attoe, sr., F 4.1 3.4
Taylor Henchen, jr., G 4.4 1.5


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