The girls’ basketball race in the Central Wisconsin 8 Conference just got a lot more interesting, thanks to Weyauwega-Fremont’s recent wins over Wittenberg-Birnamwood and Amherst.
Two days after upsetting Amherst 47-46, the Indians defeated Wittenberg-Birnamwood 56-46 Jan. 24. Amherst came into their rematch with the Indians as the state’s top-ranked team in Division 4, while the Chargers were ranked seventh in Division 3 in the latest Associated Press poll.
“I’m not really sure what to say,” coach Joe Titus said. “The girls played with more heart and selflessness this week than I have ever seen. Sharing the ball, playing outstanding defense, it was an effort that our entire program can be proud of.”
W-F 56, W-B 46
After Amherst held her to four points, Morgan Wilson tied her career best with a game-high 21 points against the Chargers.
Wilson, who missed all of last season because of an ACL injury, also scored 21 earlier this season in a 62-45 loss in Wittenberg.
The final result, however, was different this time around.
W-F led 12-10 after one quarter, 23-15 at halftime and 40-34 after three quarters.
“Everybody made plays tonight,” Titus said. “Morgan and Jenni (Hellweg) did a great job down low keeping (W-B’s Savannah) Vera off the boards; Mariah (Hulbert) made play after play; our perimeter defense was great with Maggie (Knecht), Macey (Schoenick) and Alyssa (Goode) really stepping up; and Karissa (Akey) came in and had a couple nice boards and showed great poise at the free-throw line.”
The Indians hit 18 of 22 attempts from the free-throw line, while the Chargers went to the line only eight times and hit three.
Mariah Hulbert added 17 points for W-F, while Monica Verkuilen and Vera led the Chargers with 15 and 13, respectively.
W-F 47, Amherst 46
A fast start and a blocked shot at the end of the game helped Weyauwega-Fremont hand Amherst its first loss of the season.
The Indians outscored the Falcons 18-4 in the first quarter. Amherst cut into the lead by outscoring the Indians 20-10 in the second quarter, but still trailed 28-24 at halftime.
The Falcons cut the lead to 28-28 on a Lindsay Rutz basket in the third quarter, but W-F closed out the period with a 8-2 run to take a 36-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
Amherst’s Marisa Loken hit a pair of free throws with 2:12 remaining to cut the Indians’ lead to 42-40, but W-F pushed the lead back to seven on three free throws from Schoenick and two from Hellweg.
Amherst wasn’t finished, however, as Hannah Grawey hit a pair of three-pointers in the final minute, the second one coming with 6 seconds left.
The Falcons forced a turnover and had a chance for a last-second shot, but Schoenick came up with the block.
“We did just enough, just enough,” Titus said. “You could see tonight why (Amherst) is the No. 1-ranked team in the state. That’s no accident. The intensity was very high, especially in that first quarter. It got a little sloppy at the end, but we were able to do what we needed to against a spectacular team.”
Hellwig and Schoenick led the Indians with 18 and 14 points, respectively, while Jaimee Pitt and Brooke Groholski led the Falcons with 11 each.
All of Groholski’s points came in the second quarter.
“Brooke had a tremendous second quarter,” Amherst coach Jay Pitt said. “We’re struggling, we ran a couple of things for her and she knocked down some big shots.”
“We left Brooke open quite a bit in the first half,” Titus said. “She hit some nice shots for them, but we did a much better job on her in the second half.”
“We did the things down the stretch to make it a game,” Pitt said. “I should’ve called a timeout when she had the steal, but we had just talked in the timeout before that if we get a steal, we need to attack the basket. A freshman gets the steal and wasn’t real sure of herself. Had I called a timeout, who knows what would’ve happened? Jaimee was right next to her and I think if we had given it to Jaimee, she would’ve hit one.”
Each team hit 17 shots in the game, but Amherst took 55 and W-F took 31. On the other hand, the Indians turned the ball over 24 times, compared to nine for the Falcons.
“Everybody knows shooting’s going to come and go, so you’ve got to hope your defense is the constant and can keep you in the game,” Pitt said. “After the first quarter, it did. I knew we could turn them over without question, but we weren’t aggressive enough to start the game and we sat back again in the third quarter. That was the difference.”
Pitt came into the game as the CWC-8’s leading scorer at 19.5 points per game. Loken also held Wilson, the Indians’ leading scorer, to four points.
“Macey did a spectacular job on Jaimee,” Titus said. “She had 11 points and had to work hard for each and every one of them. Jaimee’s one of those special players. For her to have 11 points, that’s just a testament to what our girls were able to do tonight.”
“I don’t think Jaimee’s missed that many shots in a game in her life,” Pitt said. “Hey, more power to them. They came out, they were ready to play. I told them before the game, ‘You’re the notch on everybody’s belt.’ We can’t show up not ready to go and that’s what we did. After the first quarter, we were ready to play, but you can’t spot them 14 and expect to win.
“Something else may happen on a normal shooting night, but like I told them, you have to keep your eye on the prize,” he said. “It’s not about this one game right here. We’re absolutely disappointed in the way it finished. Now, we’re in a dogfight to win the conference.”
The Indians improved to 7-2 in the CWC-8 and 11-3 overall with the wins.
Amherst has one loss in conference play and defeated W-B earlier this season. Those two teams will face off again Thursday, Feb. 7, in Amherst.
“Coming off such an emotional win 48 hours ago, I really wasn’t sure how we would handle that plus physical fatigue,” Titus said. “They showed just how mentally tough they can be. To beat the top-ranked team in Division 4 on Tuesday and follow it up with a win over the seventh-ranked Division 3 team is proof how hard these girls have worked and how far they have come.”