In the early part of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs, no team has been hotter than the Auburndale girls.
During the last month, and especially the week of the regionals, Auburndale has beaten two higher seeded teams to win its first WIAA regional since 2011 and advance to the sectional tournament.
On Jan. 31, Auburndale was 6-7 and a regional title was not on the radar, but the girls have won eight of their last 10 games, including two over Marathon, once in the regular season and in the regional final to improve to 15-10 heading into today’s sectional semifinal against Bonduel at 7 p.m. at Wausau West.
“It was huge for the girls to beat Marathon a second time and in such a big game,” first-year Auburndale coach Scott Meidl said. “With that win, they realized that they can beat anyone if they play a good game.”
The turnaround isn’t that surprising to Meidl.
“I think it was a matter of everyone working better together and understanding their roles on the team,” said Meidl, who was on the girls coaching staff the past two years. “I don’t think it was anything special. The girls are a team not and just playing their best basketball.”
In Bonduel, Auburndale faces a team that they are unfamiliar with and one that was a co-champion in the Central Wisconsin Conference-8. Leading the Bears in scoring is junior Jennifer Dowden, who was the No. 2 scorer in the conference by averaging 16.8 points per game.
“We really haven’t talked too much about Bonduel,” Meidl said. “We’ve knocked off two 20-win teams to get to where we are, and there really isn’t that much pressure on us as a No. 5 seed.”
Junior Shannon Jahnke leads Auburndale — the fourth-place finisher in the Marawood South — in scoring by averaging 13.7 points per game, which tied her for third in scoring in the league.
“When we are clicking, we are a very good team,” Meidl said. “We know we are playing very talented teams from here on out and we’re excited to still be playing basketball.”