Evergreen and Cardinal girls to meet once againTwo years after forfeiting their chance at a sectional title, the South Shore Cardinals are finally headed back to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 5 sectional semifinals.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
MINONG — Two years after forfeiting their chance at a sectional title, the South Shore Cardinals are finally headed back to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 5 sectional semifinals.
Ready to greet them is an opponent itching for a rematch — the Northwood Evergreens.
The Northwood and South Shore girls basketball teams square off at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hayward. Northwood (18-6) advanced with a 58-18 victory over Drummond on Saturday, while South Shore (24-0) advanced with a 64-39 victory over Luck.
“It’ll be a tough game,” said Northwood coach Jason Schultz. “They’re an excellent team. They’ve got obvious advantages in size that most Division 5 schools don’t have, so it’s going to be a tough task trying to handle them.”
The Evergreens faced South Shore’s 6-foot-2 sisters, Emily and Megan Gustafson, during the regular season.
In that game the Cardinals took a 17-9 lead in the first quarter. Northwood stormed back to tie the score at 38-38 in the fourth quarter, and the game remained close until the final two minutes, when South Shore connected
at the free-throw line and pulled away for the 53-44 victory.
“We’ve got to play hard defense and we’ve got to score,” Schultz said. “We held them to 53, which is well below their average, but I’d like to keep them even lower.”
South Shore is led by its big three: seniors Emily Gustafson and Janice Anderson and sophomore Megan Gustafson. Emily Gustafson, who along with Northwood point gaurd Sarah Benson is headed to Division II Upper Iowa University next year, leads the state in rebounds per game with 18. Megan Gustafson averages about 31 points per game to lead all scorers statewide, and Anderson is among the state leaders in assists and steals.
In South Shore’s regional final game against Luck, Anderson led the way with 22 points and eight assists. The Gustafson sisters finished with 18 points apiece, and Emily Gustafson also pulled down 20 rebounds.
“We’ve really got to stop some of their big players,” Benson said. “On defense, we’ve got to work better.
“And we shot pretty horribly last time, so hopefully we’ll shoot as well as we did tonight.”
The Evergreens shot about 25 percent when playing South Shore, Schultz said. In Saturday’s regional final game with Drummond, Northwood shot 51 percent from the field.
For the Cardinals, stopping Benson will be key. The senior started strong Saturday and scored 11 points in the first half. She finished the game with 16 points, nine assists, five blocks and four steals.
“Sarah played probably her best game of the season,” Schultz said. “She’s been struggling a little bit shooting the basketball, and tonight she was very aggressive and she shot well. It really was one of our best shooting nights as a team. We played with an edge tonight that was awesome.”
Sophomore McKayla Waggoner is another player to watch. She leads the Evergreens in scoring and had 18 points and eight rebounds Saturday. Fellow sophomore Elise Burns had eight rebounds, including five on the offensive boards, and seniors Amber Denninger and Morgan Block both hit key baskets for Northwood to finish with six and five points, respectively.
“The kids played with a lot of heart tonight,” Schultz said. “I challenged them a little bit to play their best basketball now because I don’t think we’ve peaked yet, and we’re moving in the right direction. This was one of our best performances of the season.”
Northwood heads back to the sectionals for the third time in four years. On both previous occasions, the Evergreens went on to play in the sectional finals.
“It’s definitely a little more fun as a senior, but all three times that we’ve gone have been exciting,” Benson said. “It’s just a great experience.”
Denninger said the Evergreens take pride in being a perennial contender. The current players have worked hard for success following the departure of the players who gave Northwood its first state tournament berth in 2010.
“It’s unbelievable,” Denninger said. “We’ve worked hard in practice and we’ve come so far in the past few years.”
South Shore’s journey has been equally impressive. Two years ago, the Cardinals pulled off a series of upsets that landed them in the regional final game with Mellen. The Cardinals ended up winning the regional title, 65-53, but they never played in the sectional tournament.
Instead, the team forfeited and surrendered its place in the sectional semifinals to Mellen. The Cardinals couldn’t play because a band trip to Seattle the same week left the team with only four players to suit up.
The Cardinals return to sectionals this year for the first time since 2004, when Jolene Anderson led the Cardinals to a second place finish at state.
NOTES: Northwood defeated South Shore 53-47 last season in the regional finals. … The Evergreens have advanced to the regional finals every year since 2007 and moved on to the sectional tournament four times. All three regional final losses for Northwood during that time came to Siren (2008, 2009 and 2011). … Janice Anderson is the younger sister of Jolene Anderson. Jolene Anderson remains the record holder among all divisions for most points scored in a state tournament game. She scored 46 points against Elkhart-Lake Glenbeulah in the Division 4 state semifinals in 2004. She also set the record for most rebounds with 28 in the same state semifinals game.
Northwood 18 14 18 8 — 58
Drummond 3 4 7 4 — 18
Northwood — McKayla Waggoner 18, Sarah Benson 16, Amber Denninger 6, Morgan Block 5, Jessica Hill 4, Carley Stone 2, Elise Burns 2, Hannah Henson 2, Anna Peterson 2, Kaitlyn Harwick 1.
3-point goals — Benson 2, Block.
Drummond — Bethany Best 14, Christina Wickingson 3, Miranda Wickman 1.
3-point goals — None.
South Shore 14 23 15 12 — 64
Luck 5 13 15 6 — 39
South Shore — Janice Anderson 22, Megan Gustafson 18, Emily Gustafson 18, Jenna Sorenson 6.
Luck — Avery Steen 15, Jenni Holdt 10, Jillian Klatt 5, Tayler Dow 4, Angie Gorr 2, Taylor Joy 2, Jackie LaDuke 1.