Lady Panthers Advance to Face Neenah
By Ken McKenzie
The SPASH girls’ basketball team survived their initial WIAA tourney test in downing Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, 66-61, advancing to face Neenah Saturday night.
Facing each other for the third time, the two WVC squads were destined to settle the bragging rights question for the current campaign after splitting their first two encounters; each team stealing a road win on the other’s home court. Key to the outcome also seemed destined in the success of Rapids’ post player, Victoria Hansen.
Hansen dominated in the paint in the Rapids’ win with 32 points but was controlled to some degree in the rematch and held to 20 points with equally improved team defense on Hanson’s teammates. Hansen earned 29 points Friday with many coming as a result of getting put back baskets and cleaning up on loose rebounds.
On this night the difference seemed to hinge on SPASH taking some control on the glass at a critical time and speeding up the game in doing so.
“I thought in the fourth quarter we finally defensive rebounded a little better,” said Coach Derek Kirklewski. “We really wanted to push the ball against these girls which we did in the fourth quarter. In order to that you need to be getting the defensive rebounds.”
“We like to get up the floor and have the players to do that but you can’t get out and run until you first get the rebound. We didn’t do that real well in the first three quarters.”
Senior Morgan Drake got things started for the Lady Panthers, hitting a jumper from the left baseline with Maggie Negaard scoring in transition moments later to post a 4-0 lead. Victoria Hansen scored on her first touch with Negaard then hitting a picture jump shot from just inside the arc. After Maycie Wiernik answered for WRL, Abby Bohanski drove down the lane to gain Hansen’s first foul and split the resulting free tosses for a 7-4 lead.
Bohanski answered a split pair of tosses by Rapids with a three point shot from the high left arc in front of the opponents’ bench before Kaitlyn Hess scored for Rapids of a penetration pass. Taylor Beadles hit a three from the left corner and Negaard ended the scoring in the quarter with a 15-10 advantage for the Lady Panthers.
Hess scored on a put back and Kendra Lysne hit a jumper to draw within one with Morgan Drake scoring off an offensive board for a 17-14 lead. Hess scored again before Bohanski hit from the right side and Sarah Warner forced the steal and scored on a breakaway to push the margin to three at 21-18. Hansen answered quickly with Bohanski hitting twin free throws with 1:30 remaining in the half. Hansen scored again and was fouled but missed the extra free toss but the ball was tipped around with Hansen recovering it and scoring again to end the half with Rapids in front, 24-23.
Hansen split a pair of tosses and hit from in the post as Rapids moved ahead 27-23 with Warner answering with a jumper and then adding twin free throws a minute later to tie the game at 5:52. Warner then snared a defensive rebound and took it end to end for the lay in.
Lysne answered with a jumper for Rapids with Warner hitting yet again. Hansen got the ball in deep for two more and soon gave Rapids a one point lead when she split free tosses. Bohanski answered for SPASH and Hansen’s split on a pair of free throws knotted the score at 33 with 2:15 to play in the third.
Lysne nailed a trey before Negaard split her twin chances from the line and Hansen scored yet again, this time on a second chance ball when her initial missed shot was batted around and came back her way to put Rapids up 38-34. Negaard netted both free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining to leave SPASH only a deuce behind to begin the fourth.
Negaard got right back into scoring mode as she nailed a three on the first possession to grab back the lead at 39-38. Alyssa Huglen hit twin free throws as Rapids regained the lead with Warner doing the same deed on the other end.
Warner was called for a charge but took the ball right back at the defenders on the next trip; this time earning a blocking call and hit on the shot for the ‘plus one’ opportunity that she cashed for a 44-40 SPASH lead.
Hansen got another put back basket and teams exchanged missed opportunities before Bohanski scored on a layup that paused and hung on the rim before finally dropping through, re-establishing the four point lead. Hansen scored on a post-up and Negaard hit twin tosses after being fouled hard at 5:18. Again Hansen got a put back hoop to draw within two.
Beadles hit another three pointer from the left corner to push the margin to five before Wiernik split twin free throws. Negaard split twin free throws at 4:19 and drew an extra buzz from the student section crowd including boys’ team members when she faked one way; then reversed direction to get the open look jumper which dropped for a 54-47 lead.
Lysne answered with a score but Bohanski got a look to keep pace before Huglen hit a soft runner in the lane to narrow the SPASH lead to 56-51. Beadles then drained her third trey of the night that rolled around the rim and finally sank in to give SPASH its biggest margin at 59-51.
Rapids missed twin free throws with Bohanski splitting free throws at 1:48 to stretch the margin to nine with Hansen answering immediately plus one to bring the score to 60-54 at 1:42. As Rapids applied extra pressure with time waning, the sequence of trips to the foul line began with Warner dropping twin opportunities; soon to be matched by Wiernik’s success from the stripe.
After SPASH missed on twin free throws, Hansen was successful from in deep with Rachel Sullivan then calmly adding twin tosses at 38.7 seconds in earning SPASH just a bit more breathing room in crunch time. Pulchinski netted one of two free throws for Rapids and after another pair of misses, Drake put the finishing touch on the win, stubbornly rattling each in with Rapids getting one more hoop from Pulchinski just before the final horn and a 66-61 final.
The Lady Panthers hit 5 of 17 from behind the arc and hit 21 of 29 free throws in earning their first tournament win of the second season. Warner, Bohanski and Sullivan each grabbed six rebounds in the battle for lane control.
The Lady Panthers will need to execute a quick turnaround to play at #2 seed Neenah, who handled #7 Oshkosh West Friday by a score of 57-48 to advance to the regional final.
SPASH scoring: Taylor Beadles 9, Sarah Warner 17, Abby Bohanski 15, Rachel Sullivan 2, Morgan Drake 6, Maggie Negaard 17.
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln scoring: Kendra Lysne 7, Maycie Wiernick 7, Kaitlyn Hess 8, Chani Pulchinski 6, Alyssa Huglen 4, Victoria Hansen 29.