An intense rivalry between the Polar Bears and added another exciting chapter on Saturday, Feb. 28, as the two teams collided in Hortonville.
The Hortonville girls’ basketball team came away with a 41-31 win and the regional championship.
The Polar Bears have had a better season, taking first place in the Fox Valley Association with a 16-2 record this year. The Bulldogs ended up taking third place in the conference with a 12-4 record.
Although Hortonville beat New London 60-43 during the regular season this year, playoff history was on New London’s side, as the Bulldogs knocked the Bears out of the playoffs at sectionals in the 2012-13 season by a 44-29 score, and again last year in regionals by a 54-38 score.
As this year’s regional championship began, Hortonville jumped out to a 14-9 lead after one quarter. The Bulldogs answered by outscoring the Polar Bears 8-5 in the second quarter, and Hortonville carried a narrow 19-17 lead into halftime.
Hortonville outscored New London 15-13 in the third quarter to gain a four-point lead going into the final frame as players from both teams dove for loose balls, battled for rebounds and worked tirelessly on defense.
The highly competitive game seemed destined to go down to the wire, and fans braced themselves for a wild fourth quarter.
Though they had played aggressively the first three quarters, Hortonville elected to hold the ball on offense during the fourth quarter, killing the clock while clinging to a four-point lead. As minutes rolled off the clock, the New London defense waited for the Hortonville offense to make a move.
New London fans booed lustily upon seeing Hortonville’s stall tactic in action, while Hortonville fans cheered their team’s inactivity.
Finally, Hortonville worked the ball into the corner and Shay Frederick hit a deep 3-point shot, ending the monotony.
The Polar Bears played solid defense on the other end, allowing the Bulldogs to score just one point in the fourth quarter.
With time running out, the Bulldogs were forced to foul, and Hortonville added four more points in the quarter to keep the game out of reach, earning a 41-31 win.
Hortonville made 18 of 47 shots (38 percent) including 5 of 12 from 3-point range (41 percent) while sinking 10 of 14 free throw attempts (71 percent).
Frederick and Madi Walter both scored 10 points to lead Hortonville while Jenna Jalling added eight. Morgan Allen scored six, Maddie Dunathan contributed three, and Sarah Huebner and Lexy Campshure both scored two.
New London made 10 of 23 shots (43 percent) including 5 of 8 from 3-point range (62 percent) while hitting 6 of 10 free throws (60 percent).
Leah Porath scored 12 points to lead New London, while Payton Mix added eight. McCoy Mix netted five points, while Cassidy Pethke, Maddie Schroeder and Macy Madsen all scored two.
With the win, Hortonville advances to face top-seeded Mosinee in a sectional semi-final on Thursday, March 5. That game will begin at 7 p.m. and will be played at Wausau East. The winner of that game will face either River Falls or Onalaska for a Sectional Championship at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in Marshfield.
New London 49, Antigo 30
In their regional semi-final game, the Bulldogs topped the Antigo Red Robins using consistent offensive production.
Antigo led 8-7 after one quarter, but New London outscored the visiting team 15-9 in the second quarter to take a 22-17 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Red Robins 13-4 to push the lead to 35-21. The fourth quarter was more of the same, as New London earned a 14-9 advantage to close out the game.
New London made 19 of 48 shots (39 percent) including 3 of 11 from 3-point range (27 percent) while hitting 6 of 11 free throws (54 percent).
Payton Mix scored 23 points and snared five rebounds for New London, while Porath scored 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds. Schroeder and Alycia Halvorson both scored three, while Madsen, McCoy Mix and Pethke all added two points.
Hortonville 70, Shawano 37
The Polar Bears ran out to a 19-6 lead after one quarter and never looked back as they earned a big win in their regional semi-final game against Shawano on Friday, Feb. 27.
Hortonville outscored Shawano 16-7 in the second quarter, 14-7 in the third quarter, and 21-17 in the fourth quarter.
Frederick scored 19 points to lead Hortonville, while Dunathan added 11. Allen netted nine, Jalling tallied seven, Randi Morack contributed five, Olivia Griesbach, Gabby McKeever and Huebner all scored four, Kayla Peterson dropped in three, and Walter and Sydney Coenen both scored two.