Fall Creek 56, Marathon 51
ASHWAUBENON – Tatum Mayenschein and Olivia Burghardt gave each other a gigantic hug and then signaled over to a cheering student section as they happily walked off the Resch Center court.
The embrace likely included a deep exhale after they helped No. 6 Fall Creek outlast No. 5 Marathon 56-51 on Thursday in a WIAA Division 4 girls’ state basketball semifinal that wasn’t decided until the waning moments.
Fall Creek (25-2) will face Cuba City – a 62-56 winner over St. Mary’s Springs in an earlier semifinal – in Saturday’s state championship game.
The Crickets opened the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead, only to watch the Red Raiders create offense behind a harassing defense that ignited an 8-0 run to tie the game at 39-39 with 5:21 remaining.
Marathon (25-2) took a one-point lead with 3:33 to play before Mayenschein started to take over, scoring the Crickets’ next four points as they regained the lead for good and then cemented the win from the free throw line.
Mayenschein, a 5-foot-11 senior, finished with a game-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Burghardt added 13 points on five-of-six shooting and six rebounds.
Olivia Meurette finished with 13 points to pace the Red Raiders, who forced 17 turnovers but shot just 37 percent, including one-of-12 from three-point range.
Emily Kind added 11 points and seven rebounds for Marathon, and Natasha Hanke finished with 10 points.
Cuba City 62, St. Mary’s Springs 56
ASHWAUBENON – Thursday’s WIAA Division 4 state girls’ basketball semifinal between top-ranked Cuba City and No. 3 St. Mary’s Springs followed the expected script.
The teams exchanged a myriad of jabs throughout much of their heavyweight matchup at the Resch Center. But the unbeaten Cubans had a bit more pop to their punch as they earned a hard-fought 62-56 victory, passed yet another test and advanced to Saturday’s championship game.
Mollie Wedige led the Cubans (27-0) with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Jessi Marti added 16 points and Kaitlyn Kaiser finished 11 points to offset a sensational performance by Springs forward Kelli Schrauth.
The 5-foot-11 Schrauth continuously powered her way through the Cubans’ active 2-3 zone to finish with a game-high 25 points on nine-of-11 shooting. She added 12 rebounds and two blocks as the Ledgers (24-3) kept within striking distance but could never make that game-changing run after falling behind by 10 points in the first half and as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Senior Liz Bohn added 13 points for the Ledgers, who were making their second straight state tournament appearance.
Assumption 57, South Shore 43
ASHWAUBENON – South Shore’s vaunted offense was no match for Assumption’s swarming defense.
The third-ranked Royals blitzed, pressured and harassed their way to a resounding 57-43 victory over the second-ranked Cardinals on Thursday in a WIAA Division 5 girls state basketball semifinal at the Resch Center.
The victory sets up a title showdown between Assumption and Barneveld for the third straight year. Barneveld, the defending champion, trounced Fall River 66-34 in earlier semifinal game. Assumption captured the title in 2013.
Saturday’s championship game will be played at 11:05 a.m.
“People are probably going to call this the rubber match,” Assumption coach Joe Birkhauser said. “We were lucky to get them by one point (in February), but it’s going to be a battle, going to be a lot of fun.”
Assumption (25-3) parlayed 30 turnovers and 22 steals into 34 points as Macie Zurfluh paced the Royals with eight steals and a team-high 15 points.
Gena Grendhoffer added 14 points for a balanced Royals offense that saw four players score at least nine points. Macyn Krings chipped in with 11 points.
Autum Linzmeier finished with nine points and six steals.
“When you get deflections, they turn into steals,” Zurfluh said. “It worked out for us.”
The Royals built a 45-16 halftime, limited the Cardinals to (25-3) to just 31 total field goal attempts and held them to nearly 26 points below their team average of 68.6 per game coming into the contest.
South Shore senior Megan Gustafson, a 6-foot-3 University of Iowa recruit and the state’s all-time scoring leader, capped a sensational career with 30 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks. She scored 22 of her points in the second half, finished 12-of-16 from the floor and grabbed 15 defensive rebounds.
“We were worried about Megan Gustafson, but we were more worried about what we were going to do,” said Birkhauser, who noted that “defense creating our offense” has been a priority all season.
Gustafson entered the game averaging 40.6 points and 19 rebounds per game. She finished with 1,127 points on the season and 3,229 points for her career.
“She’ll go down in history in the state of Wisconsin, not just because of numbers but on the caliber of player she is,” South Shore coach Ryan Tiberg said.
Barneveld 66, Fall River 34
ASHWAUBENON — Barneveld leading scorer Hannah Whitish starred in the first half, and the Golden Eagles overwhelmed Fall River from the opening tip en route to a 66-34 in a WIAA Division 5 state girls basketball semifinal at the Resch Center.
Barneveld ended the first quarter with a 3-pointer by Mia Whitish and led 26-8 after eight minutes. Its lead only increased from there in the second.
The top-ranked and defending-champion Golden Eagles (25-1) led 40-12 midway through the second quarter. At that point, Fall River (24-4) had more turnovers (14) than points.
It didn’t get a whole lot better for the Pirates until Barneveld took the gas off the pedal in the second half with the game well in hand.
“I think the girls were as focused today as they’ve been all year long,” said Barneveld coach Jim Myers, who earned his 694th career victory Thursday, most in state history for girls hoops.
Whitish starred in the first half for the Eagles. She was 8-of-11 from the field — including 5-of-7 on 3’s, for 21 points — and also had four rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Whitish finished with 25 points and eight boards. Rachel Slaney added 15 points for the Eagles, who shot 47 percent on the day compared to 32 percent for Fall River.
“We didn’t play as well as we thought we would,” said Fall River coach Jim Doolittle. “Barneveld just came out on fire. They came out swinging, and we didn’t.”
The two teams played back on Feb. 14; Barneveld won 54-43 but the score was tied at halftime.
Barneveld led by as many as 38 points on Thursday. The Eagles are making their 10th appearance at state and will attempt to win their sixth title on Saturday.