Polar Bears score season low
By Erik Buchinger
In Hortonville’s first state appearance since 1987, the Polar Bears scored their fewest points in a game this season in a WIAA Division II state semifinal loss to Cudahy 46-36 in Green Bay on Friday, March 10.
Hortonville came into the game shooting 43.5 percent from the floor this year, but the Polar Bears made just 26.7 percent of their shots in the loss, including 2 of 14 from the three-point line.
Hortonville’s first-year head coach Celeste Ratka said it was a combination of good defense and the Polar Bears simply missing shots they have made most of this season.
“I don’t want to take anything away from their defense; they did a great job,” Ratka said. “They were right with Shay [Frederick] on a lot of those screening actions and things we were trying to do, but a little bit of it was tightness. We missed quite a few layups that we normally put in, and I think that just got us even more tight. When you start missing layups, one turns into two and the kids just never really relaxed throughout the game.”
Hortonville junior guard Shay Frederick scored a team-high 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting from the floor, including 0 of 6 from the three-point line.
“It’s definitely tough not seeing the ball go in, especially when you’re working so hard for shots and teammates are working so hard for you to get open,” Frederick said. “Stuff like that happens. I have games like that all the time in my seasons, but I need to find another way and adjust.”
Hortonville opened up a 10-2 lead early in the game, but Cudahy fought back and led 24-18 at halftime after Hannah Kulas’ buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the half.
The Polar Bears went to a full-court press early in the second half but struggled to convert the steals into points.
“Once we started speeding them up in the second half, we started to get some good things,” Ratka said. “We just couldn’t sustain it for the period that we needed to.”
Hortonville cut the lead to two with a 6-0 run with 11 minutes left in the game, but it never got closer than that.
With 4 1/2 minutes left, Hortonville trailed 36-31 and missed several layups under the hoop.
“I knew we were close, and we just had to get some of those to fall,” Ratka said. “The pressure was starting to get to them a little bit, but that’ show the game goes. Momentum can change on a dime, so that was definitely a play that sticks out in my mind as well with those few opportunities to cut the deficit to a single possession was huge.”
Hortonville senior forward Morgan Allen fouled out with about four minutes left going for a steal in the press.
“Morgan’s been our anchor all year long,” Ratka said. “She’s been the focal point for defenses every game we’ve played, and it hurt to not have her presence in there offensively and at the defensive end. She’s just a solid player, and she’s going to be missed a lot. That’s going to be big shoes that we’ve got to fill for next year.”
Allen scored 10 points with nine rebounds and is signed to play collegiately for IUPUI next season.
Cudahy slowly pulled away, and Hortonville could not answer for a 10-point deficit.
“I just hurt for our players,” Ratka said. “They’ve invested and given so much to this season and to this program, and I just really hurt for them that we came up short. I think this will feed their competitive juices, and I think they’re going to respond the right way and want to get better and want an opportunity come back here and compete.”
Frederick, who scored her 1,000th career point late in Hortonville’s sectional final victory and is committed to playing at Valparaiso, will finish out her high school career as a season next year.
“I just think we need to stay hungry,” Frederick said. “We can’t get discouraged, and we can’t hang our heads about this. We’ve got to bounce back, and that starts with this summer coming in and working hard. We should be able to do anything like we did this year.”