On paper, it looked like an intriguing matchup.
Iola-Scandinavia and Weyauwega-Fremont came into their Division 4 subregional girls’ basketball game March 4 with identical 11-11 records after splitting their two Central Wisconsin 8 Conference games during the regular season.
W-F held off a late Thunderbird rally and eliminated them from the tournament with a 47-38 loss.
Karissa Akey scored 13 of her 20 game-high points in the first quarter, as the Indians took an 18-11 lead into the second period.
The Indians kept the ball for a minute on the game’s opening possession before Morgan Wilson opened the scoring with a three-pointer that turned out to be her only points of the game.
“We played defense for a minute and then Morgan hits the big three,” I-S coach Mark Wester said. “When you have to play defense for that long, it takes a lot out of you.
The T-Birds opened the second quarter with a 8-2 run to cut the lead to 20-19, but never got any closer the rest of the game.
“We were able to bounce back,” Wester said. “There was a period in the second quarter where we got back to within one, but then they answered again with a nice 6-0 run to go back up by seven at the half.”
The Indians led 26-19 at halftime and quickly pushed the lead to 13 with a 10-4 run to start the second half.
The T-Birds chipped away at the lead and cut it to 36-33 with 4:26 remaining in the game on a pair of CharAnn Bonikowske free throws. I-S also cut the deficit to 38-35 with 2:42 to play on Leighten Fischer’s steal and layup.
However, Alyssa Goode responded with a three-pointer to get the lead back up to six and the T-Birds never got any closer than four points the rest of the way.
“Goode hit that big shot for them, which was huge,” Wester said. “You have to make plays like that to win games. She made a play and we just couldn’t get over the hump. We had some kids with the flu yesterday and we didn’t have as much energy as we usually have.”
Kylie Johnson cut the Indians’ lead to 41-37 with a basket with 1:29 remaining, but the Indians scored six of the game’s final seven points.
Becky Schroeder and Goode also finished in double figures for the Indians with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Brooke Phillips led the T-Birds with nine points, six rebounds and five steals, while Fischer added eight points and five rebounds.
The Indians were able to get the win despite only one early basket from Wilson.
“You’ve got to tip your hat off to Morgan,” W-F coach Joe Titus said. “She does all the intangibles. It’s not the scoring that makes her the player that she is, it’s the passing, the rebounding, the leadership that we need this year. There’s a reason why she was the No. 1 assist gal in the conference this year. She more than tripled her assists from last season and I think that’s a testament as to how she’s tailored her game to what we needed as a ballclub.”
Wilson stayed in the game after picking up her fourth foul in the fourth quarter.
“We were in the bonus and Morgan had a little foul trouble there,” Wester said. “We capitalized for a period of time, but just couldn’t finish it off. We never were really able to get a hold of her fifth foul. Even though she had four fouls, she’s a smart player. It seemed to be one of those games where if we would have gotten over the hump, I think the momentum would have been there for us to continue onward.”
The game was the final high school contest for Bonikowske and the T-Birds other five seniors: Natalie Gauerke, Tyisha Weed, Emily Sether, Krystal Tysdal and Karina Welch.
“This was a really nice group of kids that we had this year led by those seniors,” Wester said. “They kind of set the tone for our year. It was a great year for us. The kids got along well and we had a lot of great leadership from the seniors. We’re going to miss all six. They all brought different things to the table each night.”