Evergreen girls come up short in SpoonerSPOONER — A scoring drought lasting more than 10 minutes brought the Northwood Evergreens’ season to an end Saturday in a 58-35 loss to Owen-Withee in a WIAA Division 5 sectional championship game.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
SPOONER — A scoring drought lasting more than 10 minutes brought the Northwood Evergreens’ season to an end Saturday in a 58-35 loss to Owen-Withee in a WIAA Division 5 sectional championship game.
The Evergreen girls — known as a strong defensive team — met their match Saturday as Owen-Withee held them without a point from the final 40 seconds of the first quarter to nearly the six-minute mark in the third quarter. Northwood managed just seven points in the first half and scored only two points in the first four minutes of the third quarter.
“We’re giving up 31 points a game this year, so our defense is the backbone of our team, no question about it,” said Al Guthman, Owen-Withee head coach. “We knew who we had to pay more attention to on their team, but we had to come in and do the things we’ve been doing all year.”
The Blackhawks (24-3) now face Newman Catholic (25-1) in the opening round of the Division 5 state basketball tournament at 1:35 p.m. Thursday in Madison. Newman Catholic, the two-time defending state champion, defeated Hilbert 57-56 Saturday to advance to state.
“This is what they’ve worked for all year,” Guthman said. “They’re a great bunch of girls and I want them to enjoy every minute of it, but when it comes game time they’ll be ready to play.”
The Evergreens end their year with a 20-6 overall record and a second-place finish in the Central Lakeland Conference during the regular season.
“I’m glad we got as far as we did,” said Jason Schultz, Evergreens head coach. “Our record is 20-6, which is a great record; but we were an up and down team all year, and today we were more down than up.
“Owen-Withee, they hit shots, they played hard and they made us uncomfortable on offense. They did a lot of good things.”
To start the game, Northwood won the tip and got a quick bucket from Morgan Block on a pass from McKayla Waggoner. About a minute later Block made it 4-0 on a pair of free throws.
The Evergreens took a 6-2 lead at 3:39 on a pick-and-roll play, but Owen-Withee closed out the first quarter on a 10-1 run to lead 12-7 after eight minutes of play.
“In the first quarter I thought we were — we call it chasing the goose,” Guthman said. “We weren’t sagging enough to the ball and they were getting some passes inside. We corrected that, and that just shut them down.”
In the second quarter, the Blackhawks stymied Northwood with relentless defense. The Evergreens were held without a field goal and went 0-for-2 from the free-throw line.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, finally found their range from beyond the arc. A string of 3-pointers from Emily Heggemeier and Alyssa Gordon gave Owen-Withee a 23-7 lead with 1:46 left, and the Blackhawks finished off with a pair of shots in the paint to take a 20-point lead at halftime.
“They basically just killed us in the second quarter, and that was the big difference in the game,” Schultz said. “They had a great second quarter, we had one of the worst.”
Northwood opened the third quarter with turnovers on its first three possessions, allowing Owen-Withee to increase its lead to 31-7. Teagen Harings finally broke the Evergreens’ more than 10-minute scoring drought with a long 2-pointer from the left baseline at 6:06, but the Blackhawks answered with two fast baskets in the next minute.
Owen-Withee built a 34-point lead before Northwood began to rally late in the third quarter. The Evergreens scored the final five points of the quarter to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 29 and then opened the fourth quarter with a 16-6 run to make it 52-33. The Evergreens cut Owen-Withee’s lead to 18 moments later, but Northwood wasn’t able to completely overcome its slow start.
“I will say that my girls, from midway through the third quarter on, played with a better intensity,” Schultz said. “If they would have played the entire game with that kind of intensity, they had a real good chance.”
The Evergreens outscored Owen-Withee 11-6 in the last four minutes of play. Junior Sarah Benson led the way for Northwood, scoring six points in less than two minutes.
For the night Benson led Northwood with 13 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. She also had four blocks and four steals for the Evergreens. Block added eight points, Waggoner had seven points and four steals, Harings had four points and Elise Burns had three points.
Bailey Karaba, Aleyna Goerlitz and Heggemeier all finished in double figures for Owen-Withee. Karaba had 16 points, Goerlitz had 15 and Heggemeier added 12.
The Blackhawks were 9-of-16 from the free-throw line while Northwood was 11-of-17.
NOTES: The Evergreens lose just two seniors from this year’s team — Rachel Pollock and Harings. “Teagen has been a big part of our program,” Schultz said. “She’s been playing on the varsity for three years off and on. And Rachel’s been battling injuries pretty much all of her career. I think this is one of the first years she’s been able to play the full season. She’s not going to light up the scoreboard, but she gives a lot of hustle every time.” … The Northwood girls advanced to the WIAA Division 4 state tournament for the first time in school history in 2010. … Owen-Withee is making its eighth state tournament appearance and its first since 2005. The Blackhawks were state runners-up in 1988, 2003 and 2005.
Northwood 7 0 10 18 — 35
Owen-Withee 12 15 19 12 — 58
Northwood — Sarah Benson 13, Morgan Block 8, McKayla Waggoner 7, Teagen Harings 4, Elise Burns 3.
3-point goals — None.
Owen-Withee — Bailey Karaba 16, Aleyna Goerlitz 15, Emily Heggemeier 12, Alyssa Gordon 8, Kenadi Batchelor 4, Emily Gokey 2, Valerie Niemi 1.
3-point goals — Gordon 2, Heggemeier 2, Karaba.