Falcons top Xavier to win regional
By Greg Seubert
Apparently, moving up a division in the WIAA state tournament is not a problem for the Amherst girls’ basketball team.
The Falcons are headed for sectionals for the first time since 2014 after handing Xavier a 60-47 loss Feb. 27 in a Division 3 regional final in Amherst.
Amherst moved up from Division 4 to Division 3 this year and advanced to the regional final with a 64-43 win Feb. 25 over Northland Pines.
The second-seeded Falcons are now 23-1 and will face top-seeded Freedom at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in a sectional final at Seymour High School. The winner of that game will play Wrightstown or Kewaunee at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at Green Bay Preble for a sectional championship.
Amherst 60, Xavier 47
The Falcons eliminated the Hawks despite playing without starter Grace Moe, who broke her ankle during the Northland Pines game.
“We had a player go down, but it helps you handle pressure,” coach Gregg Jensen said. “I thought we responded pretty well.”
Xavier came into the game with a 10-13 record and trailed by as many as 18 points, but cut the lead to eight late in the second half.
“They did what they had to do,” Jensen said. “There was some pushing and shoving and moving people around in there. You have to be able to handle it and I thought we did a pretty decent job of that, too.
“The nice thing is Geena knocked a couple (of three-pointers) down,” he added. “That opened opportunities for our guard to get into the lane and open some things up there.”
Geena is Geena Jensen, Jensen’s daughter, who hit four of the Falcons’ five three-pointers. Her third three late in the first half gave Amherst a 29-19 lead and the Falcons went into the locker room up 29-21 at the break.
The Falcons opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take a 37-21 lead. A pair of Heather Pearson baskets gave Amherst its biggest lead at 50-32, but the Hawks quickly cut the lead to 11 with a pair of threes and a free throw.
Bekah Vande Hey’s three-pointer with less than a minute to go cut Amherst’s lead to 56-47, but the Falcons hit four free throws over the final 40 seconds to seal the win.
Kendra Dombrowski led four Amherst players in double figures with 13 points. Jensen added 12, while Ashley Groshek and Pearson chipped in with 10 each.
Karly Weycker led Xavier with 13 points.
Amherst outrebounded the Hawks 40-23 and several of Xavier’s rebounds came on the Falcons’ 13 missed free throws.
“You can practice them all the time, but put some people in the stands and put a clock on and it makes a different story,” Jensen said. “We have free-throw contests on shooting days and Kendra knocks them down like crazy. I guess she’s saving them for the really important games.”
Amherst 64, Northland Pines 43
Dombrowski and Pearson combined for 45 points in a win over the Eagles.
The Falcons used a 13-0 run to take a 39-20 halftime lead.
Dombrowski led all scorers with 25 points, while Pearson added 20. Lexi Smith scored 21 for Northland Pines and Hadley Kruse also finished in double figures with 11.
Freedom will take a 20-4 record into its matchup with Amherst after beating Fox Valley Lutheran 54-39 in another regional final.
“We’re just happy to play them,” Jensen said. “This time of year, I don’t care who it is. We’ll play anybody.”