Bulldogs repeat as state champions
It was the matchup the New London girls’ basketball team was hoping for.
It was the outcome the Bulldogs wanted as well.
New London won its second straight Division 2 state championship Saturday, March 24, with a 43-39 win over previously unbeaten New Berlin Eisenhower at the Kohl Center in Madison.
The win capped a 28-0 season for the Bulldogs, who have now won 42 straight games.
Tara Knapstein scored 12 points and Bridget Pethke came up with nine steals, a new record in the Division 2 championship game.
“Everyone was waiting to get that perfect game from both perfect teams,” Knapstein said. “It just feels even better to come out on top undefeated over the other undefeated team.”
Eisenhower’s Nicole Bauman, a University of Wisconsin recruit who was named the state’s top girls’ basketball player following the game, was held to four points over the first three quarters, but scored 10 of her game-high 14 points over the final 4:21.
Her three-pointer tied the game at 37-37 with 1:26 to play, but the Bulldogs pulled ahead for good on Knaptstein’s layup with 42 seconds to play. She went on to lead the Bulldogs with 12 points in her final high school game.
Pethke came up with a steal for New London and Emily Steffanus hit one of two free throws with 20 seconds to play to give New London a 40-37 lead. She missed the second attempt, but grabbed her own rebound, forcing Eisenhower to foul.
Morgan Steinert hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to put the Bulldogs ahead 42-37. Another basket by Bauman made it 42-39 with four seconds left before Pethke sealed the win with a free throw.
“We took that timeout and just talked about relaxing, finding a good shot that you can get,” coach Troy Krause said. “We were able to get that good shot and made some free throws down the stretch.”
“Everyone was looking for a good game,” Eisenhower coach Gary Schmidt said. “I think we all got that tonight. I thought we played well. This was a game of bounces and a couple bounces didn’t go our way today. We just came up a little short tonight.”