Spartan girls open playoffs with wins over Hudson, ECMUp next for Superior is Chippewa Falls
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School girls basketball team withstood a furious Eau Claire North fourth-quarter rally to claim the WIAA Section 1 regional championship with a 67-59 win Saturday night in the SHS gym.
Up next for the Spartans is a sectional semifinal game against Chippewa Falls at 7 p.m. Thursday in Chippewa Falls. The Cardinals advanced with a 58-56 win over D.C. Everest.
Superior held what seemed a comfortable 57-34 lead after three quarters Saturday, but the Huskies outscored the Spartans 25-10 in the fourth quarter and managed to get within six points twice.
The Huskies, who thrive on 3-point shooting, made four 3-pointers and converted a three-point play to eventually get within scores of 63-57 and 65-59.
The Spartans were just 13-of-24 from the free-throw line but made them when it counted. Their final seven points came from the line, including three free throws from Jessica Lindstrom and two apiece by Hailey Kontny and Allison Wainionpaa.
North’s rally included an 11-0 run that was stopped by a Lindstrom free throw with 2:45 remaining.
Alaina Quaranta’s 3-pointer got North within 61-54, then Wainionpaa banked in a couple of free throws to make it a nine-point game.
Cayci Wathke’s 3-pointer was followed by two Kontny free throws, and Kayonna Lee’s steal and layup was followed by two Lindstrom free throws with 27.7 seconds left, which made the final score 67-59.
“I thought it was in cruise control until the fourth quarter when it got a little more interesting than it needed to be,” SHS coach Phil Roe said. “We just beat the Big Rivers Conference champ so this was a huge win for our team, and to be regional champs is awesome.
“We have two more steps to state, and that starts again Thursday at Chippewa Falls. We’re playing some of our best basketball of the year, hopefully it continues.”
The Spartans defeated the Cardinals 61-59 in Chippewa Falls on Dec. 21.
“The nice thing is that we beat them there earlier this year for the first time in program history,” Roe said. “The girls should have confidence and we’re excited about the challenge. Chippewa Falls is a very good team that has 8-10 players that work their system very well. They don’t have any superstars, but have one of the best balanced teams in the section.”
The 3-point shot helped Superior open up huge leads that included 18-4 after the first quarter, 37-20 late in the second quarter and 57-34 after three quarters.
Superior was on fire in the first quarter making four 3-pointers, including two by Alyssa Correll and one each by Lindstrom and Kontny.
North managed to get within 25-17 midway through the second quarter, but Superior finished strong with a 12-5 run for a 37-22 lead at the half.
Kontny sparked the Spartans’ run by scoring six points; and Correll came up with a steal and basket for a 37-20 lead with eight seconds left.
North’s Savannah Salm scored at the buzzer to make it a 15-point game.
Superior outscored Eau Claire North 20-12 in the third quarter for a 57-34 lead.
Kontny and Lindstrom led Superior with 19 points apiece. Correll added 15 points, Abby Clemons had eight and Wainionpaa had six.
“We started off really well,” Kontny said. “We wanted to run-and-gun on this team and we were on fire. The way we played in Friday’s win over Hudson carried over.
“We’ve been practicing really hard the past week and we had great intensity in both games. This game got a bit out of hand, but we were still able to get out with the win.”
Kayonna Lee and Wathke had 19 and 18 points, respectively for the Huskies.
“We’re not going to hang our heads on this loss,” ECN coach Michelle Peplinski said. “They are a great team, the No. 1 seed for a reason. We’ll be cheering for them to go all the way to Green Bay.”
ECN advanced to Saturday’s game with a 69-65 win at Wausau West on Friday night.
“Playing in Wausau on Friday and then coming here on Saturday, that’s a lot of traveling and it’s hard on your legs,” Peplinski said. “But that’s not an excuse, and we’re not complaining. We knew that if we were to get to state we’d have to get through Superior, which we believe is the best team in the sectional.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior defeated ECN 63-59 when the two teams played earlier this season. Lindstrom and Kontny combined to score 47 points in that game.
SHS 80, Hudson 69
By Emily Kram
The Spartans opened WIAA tournament play with an 80-69 victory over Hudson Friday night in the SHS gym.
Lindstrom and Kontny scored 27 and 21 points, respectively, but it was Correll who gave Superior the edge.
Correll hit five 3-pointers in the first half to help Superior to a 46-18 halftime lead. She finished the night with 19 points and was a key factor in deflating Hudson’s 2-3 zone defense.
“My grandma just died a week ago, so I wanted to play hard for her,” Correll said.
The sophomore’s eagle-eyed shooting changed the momentum of the game Friday.
Before Correll knocked down her first shot of the night, Superior led 13-11 and had seen the lead change five times. Correll made it 16-11 with 2:33 to play in first quarter, and 30 seconds later she put down another 3-pointer from the right corner to give Superior a 19-11 lead.
Superior pushed its lead to 12 at the start of the second quarter, and the Spartans led by double figures for the remainder of the game.
“It is a special thing about Alyssa and her grandma,” Roe said. “Her grandma was like a second mother to her, and that (loss) has been tough on Alyssa, but she knows that her grandma’s spirit lives on with her. Her grandma was watching the game tonight.”
Kontny and Lindstrom were at the top of their games, too, with 31 of their combined 48 points coming in the first half.
Superior also held Hudson to just three points in the second quarter — all on free throws — to claim a 28-point halftime lead.
“It was 46-18 at the half, and the second half was about making sure my starters and everyone was healthy for (Saturday),” Roe said. “That was my No. 1 objective, to keep everyone healthy. So we had some subs in and got girls some more playing time.”
Superior’s dominant win was a big change from the team’s previous outing, a 40-38 loss to Hayward on Feb. 18.
Roe said the Spartans have worked hard in practice since then to make corrections and to prepare for the playoffs.
“We let the dogs out in the first half,” Roe said. “They were ready. They were waiting for two weeks to get on that court and get after it again.”
Opponents have also taken note of Superior’s loss at Hayward. When the game tipped off Friday, the Spartans found themselves facing a familiar setup.
“What’s interesting is Hudson came out in the same defense that Hayward did — their 2-3 zone — so I’m sure they had the Hayward film,” Roe said. “We’ve been working and putting in some new offensive schemes, and some of them are directed towards Alyssa.”
Correll took advantage of the situation with five 3-pointers.
Lindstrom and Kontny also exploited the zone’s weakness with a pair of 3-pointers each in the first half.
Hudson made adjustments in the second half, but by then Superior had already built a 30-point lead.
“It will be harder for teams to know how to guard us now that we can beat their 2-3 zone,” Correll said.
If the Spartans continue to work as they have in practice, Correll said, the team stands a good chance of reaching the state tournament.
“This is a good team,” Roe said. “These girls are mentally and physically strong and very resilient. They took that loss (to Hayward) and the little bit of adversity and they learned from it. They grew from it.”
Eau Claire North 4 18 12 25 — 59
Superior 18 19 20 10 — 67
ECN — Crystal Bethke 2, Alaina Quaranta 9, Savannah Salm 2, Kayonna Lee 19, Cayci Wathke 18, Jasmyne Hazelton 9. Free throw: 3-of-9.
3-point goals — Hazelton 3, Wathke 2, Quaranta.
SHS — Abby Clemons 8, Alison Wainionpaa 6, Jessica Lindstrom 19, Alyssa Correll 15, Hailey Kontny 19. Free throws — 13-of-24.
3-point goals — Correll 3, Kontny, Lindstrom, Clemons.
Hudson 15 3 16 35 — 69
Superior 24 22 19 15 — 80
Hudson — Sarah Krier 17, Kindra Witthus 17, Ellie Whitacre 8, Jordan Huber 6, Kaylyn Jenkins 5, Anna Paquette 4, Maggie Koehler 4, Morgan Armbruster 3, Jordan Little 3, Katy Fox 2.
3-point goals — Krier 3, Whitacre 2, Armbruster.
SHS — Jessica Lindstrom 27, Hailey Kontny 21, Alyssa Correll 19, Abby Clemons 7, Alison Wainionpaa 2, Shannon Johnstad 2, Rachal Fregin 1, McKenzie Kmecik 1.
3-point goals — Correll 5, Lindstrom 2, Kontny 2, Clemons.