A fourth-quarter meltdown led to a loss for the Waupaca girls’ basketball team earlier this season in Clintonville.
The Comets turned the tables on the Truckers Feb. 18, as Waupaca outscored the Truckers 16-6 in the fourth quarter and came out with a 43-39 Eastern Valley Conference win.
Waupaca also needed overtime to defeat Ripon Feb. 15 and fell to Freedom 37-35 Feb. 12.
Waupaca 43, Clintonville 39
WAUPACA – Emily Williams sparked the Comets’ comeback by scoring nine of her game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Clintonville led 10-9 after one quarter, 20-17 at halftime and 33-27 after three quarters.
Although the Comets got the win, they also turned the ball over 34 times.
“It’s not often that you turn the ball over that many times and win,” coach Brandon Temperly said. “We made plays down the stretch.”
Waupaca’s two seniors, Mikaila Johnson and Courtney Schmidt, were scoreless in the half, but each came up with a big basket down the stretch.
“You don’t have to be the leading scorer to be the most important person on the team,” Temperly said.
Allison Shepard led Clintonville with 12 points.
Waupaca 51, Ripon 46 (OT)
RIPON – Waupaca held the Tigers scoreless in overtime.
Ripon led 8-3 after one quarter, 16-13 at halftime and 34-28 after three quarters, but Waupaca forced the extra period by outscoring the Tigers 18-12 in the fourth quarter.
Schmidt led all scorers with 17 points, while Johnson and Morgan smith added 11 and 10, respectively. Marissa Bunge led Ripon with 16 points and hit four of the Tigers’ seven three-pointers.
Freedom 37, Waupaca 35
WAUPACA – Freedom led 12-9 after one quarter and 21-13 at halftime, but the Comets chipped away at the lead in the second half.
Waupaca outscored the visitors 12-9 in the third quarter and 10-7 over the final eight minutes.
“We did a lot of things right, but we couldn’t make it happen at the right time,” Temperly said. “We just couldn’t make that big play. I thought we played really well defensively. If we can play defense like this, we’re always going to give ourselves a chance. We did that tonight.”
The Irish missed seven of their 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, but made just enough to keep the Comets from taking the lead. Waupaca cut the lead to one point twice late in the game, but couldn’t get any closer.
“If we could get it tied, I really thought that they would buckle and we’d be tough enough to get that win,” Temperly said. “We just couldn’t get to that tie.”
Morgan Smith led Waupaca with 13 points, while Jessica Runge led Freedom with 12.
Comet fans also contributed $327.23 as part of the team’s Coaches vs. Cancer event. Farmer’s State Bank has offered to match that amount and all proceeds will benefit Waupaca Relay for Life.
Wins over Ripon and Clintonville means the Comets can take a little momentum into the state tournament, which starts Tuesday, Feb. 26. Waupaca, a No. 9 seed in its Division 2 bracket, will play at No. 8 Shawano at 7 p.m. The winner gets top-seeded New London Friday, March 1, on the Bulldogs’ home court.
“We’d love to go into the tournament on a high note,” Temperly said. “I like where we’re at defensively heading into the tournament. We have to shore up some things on the offensive end, value the basketball a little more and hit some shots. If the girls continue to keep working at it like they have, those things are going to happen.”