The season ended for the Waupaca girls’ basketball team with a regional final loss to Merrill, but it’s how the Comets ended up there that won’t be forgotten.
Waupaca, a No. 7 seed in Division 2, fell to No. 3 Merrill 50-43 Saturday, March 10, on the Bluejays’ home court. The Comets advanced to that game by coming back from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit the night before to knock off No. 2 Medford 71-65 in overtime.
Merrill 50, Waupaca 43
Renee Sladek scored 26 of Merrill’s 50 points as the Bluejays and hit her last 10 free throws.
Merrill outscored the Comets 11-5 in the first quarter and led 18-17 at halftime and 30-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
Waupaca’s Katie Barlow hit a free throw with 1:07 to go in the game to cut Merrill’s lead to 40-38, but that was as close as the Comets could get down the stretch, as Sladek scored the game’s final eight points from the free-throw line.
Lexie Marringa led Waupaca with 17 points, while Barlow finished with nine.
Waupaca 71, Medford 65 (OT)
The Comets trailed by at least 18 points for the entire third quarter and trailed 59-38 early in the fourth quarter before scoring the game’s final 21 points and outscoring the host Raiders 12-6 in overtime.
The Raiders led 14-9 after one quarter, 39-18 at halftime and 56-36 after three quarters. Katie Messman gave the Raiders a 59-38 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but those would be the final points Medford would score in regulation.
Marringa hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds to go to make it 59-57. Mikaila Johnson came up with a steal on Medford’s next possession. Jessica Lindgren fouled her on the play and Johnson and tied the game with a pair of free throws with 29 seconds remaining.
Kylie Christianson missed a free throw with 16 seconds to go that would have given Medford the lead. The Raiders then inbounded the ball under their basket, but Lindsey Bucki’s shot was off the mark with 1.7 seconds to go.
Barlow gave Waupaca its first lead since the first quarter by scoring the first two points of overtime and Medford never had the lead again.
Johnson led the Comets with 26 points.
Waupaca 43, Shawano 32
Waupaca opened state tournament play Tuesday, March 6, with a win over the Hawks in a subregional matchup in Waupaca.
The Comets led 14-12 after one quarter and 22-19 at halftime, but Shawano tied the game at 29-29 with a 10-7 advantage in the third quarter. Waupaca pulled away by holding the Hawks to three points over the final eight minutes.
Johnson led Waupaca with 14 points.