March Madness: Girls styleThe WIAA girls basketball tournament got started this week with plenty of story lines of interest to northern Wisconsin fans. The following are some notes about the northern section of each division.
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Mike Granlund and his alter ego, Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
The WIAA girls basketball tournament got started this week with plenty of story lines of interest to northern Wisconsin fans. The following are some notes about the northern section of each division.
The Superior High School Spartans are poised to make a serious challenge for a state tournament berth with a No. 1 seed, a top 10 state ranking and two Division I college prospects. Hailey Kontny and Jessica Lindstrom are well known to the college scouts and they average a combined 36 points per game. Alyssa Correll, Alison Wainionpaa and Abby Clemons round out a very solid starting five.
Looming for the Spartans are Big Rivers Conference opponents Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire North. If the Spartans can survive these teams, Oshkosh North and Appleton North are the top seeds in the other half of the bracket that could provide the Spartans with a game on March 9 for the right to go to … Green Bay!
That’s right, this year the girls state tournament will be played at the Resch Center in Green Bay. (The boys will still play in Madison at the Kohl Center.)
One team to watch in Northern Wisconsin is Rice Lake. The Warriors’ Jenna Orr has led the BRC in
scoring for the past three seasons. Ashland (15-6) has also put together another fine season under first-year coach Brett Gunderson. New London is also in this sectional and has won 64 games in a row entering tournament play.
Ladysmith is the undefeated champion of the Heart O’ North Conference, beating out very good teams in Barron and Hayward. Ladysmith’s path may be blocked by Neillsville, which won the D-4 Championship last year. When these teams met in December, Neillsville won by an incredible 60-19 score.
A former Northwestern middle schooler is making a name for herself in the Eau Claire area. Courtney Tuura was a regular on Eau Claire Regis’ state championship team in 2011 and has ended her 2012-13 regular season as the Western Cloverbelt scoring leader at 15.4 ppg. More important to Tuura, her Regis Ramblers won the conference championship as a team.
The Tuuras were well represented in the key game against Altoona on Feb. 15 as Courtney’s dad, Byron, and 10 of his siblings filled up a van and made the trip to support Courtney. In another great show of support, 10 of the 13 Tuura brothers and sisters spent last Sunday at the Tony Tuura fishing contest in Iron River. The annual event commemorated the memory of nephew Tony Tuura, who passed away in 2007.
The top-ranked team in the northern sectional is third-ranked Colfax, coached by former Superiorite Joe Doucette, whose daughter Mallie is the team’s leading scorer.
A little out of the city on Highway 13, the South Shore Cardinals have put together a fabulous season, going 22-0 and winning the Indianhead Conference West Division.
The Cardinals have put up some of the gaudiest statistics of all time in high school basketball. Megan Gustafson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore center who already has a scholarship offer from Marquette, currently leads the state in scoring at 31.5 points per game. Her sister, Emily, a 6-2 senior who is headed for Upper Iowa next year, leads the state in rebounding with 18.3 per game, and junior guard Janice Anderson currently leads the state in assists with 8.2 per game.
With more than 1,100 points right now, Megan Gustafson is on pace to be very close to breaking the state’s all-time scoring record set by Jolene Anderson, who scored 2,881 while also playing for South Shore. Ironically, it is Jolene’s sister, Janice, who is helping the sophomore Gustafson climb the scoring chart and threaten Jolene’s mark.
No competition, you say? When those “nattering nabobs of negativity” said just that in 2004 about Jolene, she responded with a 46-point, 28-rebound effort over the defending state champions in the state semifinal game.
How can a tiny school this small have such talent? Basketball is important at South Shore. The WIAA lists the school as having 42 students and 27 of them play basketball. If you had that same ratio at Superior, coach Phil Roe would have around 500 girls out for basketball.
South Shore’s path to state will not be easy, though. Northwood (Minong) has a talented team led by Sarah Benson (also an Upper Iowa recruit) with a strong history of success under coach Jason Schultz. Down the tournament trail Owen-Withee has “been there before-done that” as they are the defending sectional champions. They’ve lost three times this year but those were to very good teams; Neillsville (twice) and Marathon.
It looks like it will be a very exciting tournament season in girl’s high school basketball.
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