There’s still one more regular-season game to go, but the Amherst girls’ basketball team has already locked up a conference championship.
The Falcons wrapped up the Central Wisconsin 8 Conference title Friday, Feb. 25, with a 49-33 win over Weyauwega-Fremont, a team that had defeated Amherst earlier this season.
Amherst sealed the win with a 22-8 advantage in the fourth quarter and scored its final 11 points from the free-throw line.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half. The Falcons outscored the Indians 8-6 in the first quarter and took a 14-12 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
“I challenged our post players to take it at them rather than looking to pass it to somebody else all the time,” Amherst coach Jay Pitt said. “We turned the ball over a lot in the first half in that situation. We’d have the ball inside and we’d think we could get it to somebody in a better position when we were already in a great position. That was the focus, to try and get it inside and hurt them there.”
W-F took its first lead at 23-22 late in the third quarter on a Jenni Hellweg basket, but Katy Rutz answered with a basket and the Falcons never trailed again.
The Indians eventually cut Amherst’s lead to 38-33 midway through the fourth quarter on a three-pointer, but they never scored again.
“I don’t know how much were nerves and how much was wear and tear,” W-F coach Tim Cullen said. “This is a really young team and I don’t question the effort. They wanted this game really bad, but some things didn’t go our way.”
Shelby Serafin and Rutz led the Falcons with 15 and 13 points, respectively, while Hellweg led all scorers with 17.
“She’s a player with a lot of talent and can go wherever she wants to in basketball,” Cullen said. “It was a really nice performance from her and that’s coming off a mission trip to Venezuela.”
Bailey Kapitzke also finished in double figures for the Indians with 10, but the rest of the team contributed only six points.
Amherst will wrap up the regular season tonight (Thursday) at Stevens Point Pacelli, while the Indians will play at Wittenberg-Birnamwood at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4.
The Indians will open the state tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, by hosting Winneconne. Amherst has a bye in the first round and will host Rosholt or Plainfield Tri-County at 7 p.m. Friday, March 11.