Gustafsons, South Shore grab state berthSPOONER — Led by the Gustafson sisters, the South Shore Cardinals punched their ticket to the WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament with a 61-53 win over defending sectional champion Owen-Withee Saturday night.
By: By Mike Granlund, Special to the Telegram, Superior Telegram
SPOONER — Led by the Gustafson sisters, the South Shore Cardinals punched their ticket to the WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament with a 61-53 win over defending sectional champion Owen-Withee Saturday night.
Owen-Withee, last year’s WIAA Division 5 state runner-up, returned four starters and seemed a very formidable foe for the unbeaten Cardinals (26-0). Saturday’s game started out as a see-saw affair with Owen-Withee gaining a five-point lead before South Shore surged ahead after the first quarter by a 15-14 score.
The Cardinals scored the first six points of the second quarter behind 6-foot-3 sophomore Megan Gustafson to stretch their lead to seven. The Blackhawks fought back with a 9-0 run of their own to take the lead, but South Shore regained the lead by the half, 27-25, on an Emily Gustafson basket.
Thirteen first half turnovers hurt South Shore against the Blackhawks’ pesky full court press.
In the third quarter, the Cardinals cut down on turnovers, went inside to Megan Gustafson and ran the lead to nine, 38-29.
During that run Owen-Withee’s third leading scorer on the season, Bailey Karaba, fouled out with a little more than five minutes left to go in the third quarter, which ended with the Cardinals still up 47-38.
A furious Blackhawk rally got Owen-Withee to within three with less than a minute to play, but an Emily Gustafson blocked shot and two free throws gave South Shore and coach Clendon Gustafson some breathing room.
The final seconds saw Coach Gustafson empty the bench to give all 10 South Shore girls court time before a packed house at the new Spooner gymnasium.
For the game, Megan Gustafson, the state’s leading scorer, scored 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Emily Gustafson, a 6-2 senior, nearly had a triple double as she scored 14 points with 12 rebounds and eight blocks.
Speedy guard Janice Anderson chipped in with nine points, and Jenna Sorenson had two. Morgan Sorenson and Alyssa Kavajecz contributed tenacious defense on the perimeter against the balanced Blackhawks. South Shore committed only three turnovers in the second half.
For Owen-Withee, Stephany Heggemeier had four 3-pointers among her 23 points. Aleyna Goerlitz added 12 points, Kenadi Batchelor had seven, Emily Heggemeier had six, Whitney Baer had three and Karaba was held to two.
Owen-Withee finishes the season at 23-4 and won the Cloverbelt Conference championship along with a regional championship.
South Shore (26-0) plays Barneveld (26-1) in the state tournament at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
South Shore’s proud basketball tradition got its start in 1950 when the Cardinals boys almost qualified for Madison in the one-class system.
Behind superstars Bucky Jardine and Willard Ogren, South Shore lost in the sectional tournament. Subsequent years saw the Cardinals win a number of Indianhead Conference championships.
With the advent of the WIAA’s three division basketball in the 1970s (now five divisions), and the establishing of girls’ sports, South Shore took it to another level. South Shore has qualified for the WIAA state tournament six times. The boys went to Madison in 1980 under coach David Lindelof, in 1983 under coach Jim Hartwig and in 1993 under coach Clendon Gustafson.
The girls’ teams qualified under coach Don Moore in 2002 and 2004 and now 2013 with Gustafson as the coach.
The 2002 and 2004 teams featured Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer in Jolene Anderson (2,881) and her running mate, Jessica Johnson, who totaled more than 1,000 points despite not playing her junior season.
Coach Gustafson was a starter on the 1980 state team. His wife Eva (nee Polkoski) was the center on the Cardinals’ team that lost to Prentice in the sectional final in 1981.
The pride was evident Saturday in Spooner as a huge contingent of South Shore fans trekked through the snow and slush to get to the sectional final against Owen-Withee. With only 42 students in the high school, the turnout was very impressive.
The Cardinal past was represented by such legends as Willard Ogren, Andy Lind and Mike Polkoski, and the Cardinal future was represented by WRBA players Maggie Ostrenga and Lily Tapani. In between was a collection of Cardinal fans young and old. The South Shore win was as much a school reunion as it was a victory celebration.
The South Shore student-athletes have a few days to study for their next test, a 26-1 Barneveld team. The WIAA tournament has been moved this year to the Resch Center in Green Bay, home of the UW-Green Bay Phoenix. The Cardinals will play the second game of the Thursday afternoon session. At 1:35 p.m., Wisconsin Rapids Assumption will face Wausau Newman in the “private school” half of the bracket.
Twenty minutes after that game, at approximately 3:15 p.m., the Cardinals will take on the Barneveld Eagles. Barneveld, of the Six Rivers Eastern Conference, is another traditionally strong team, qualifying for the WIAA state tournament eight times since 1995 and winning state titles in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2005. In the last 11 years under coach Jim Myers the Eagles’ record is 229-46.
Barneveld is led by 5-10 sophomore Rachel Slaney and 5-8 freshman Hannah Whitish, who each average 15 points per game. Senior Madi Laube (5-9) adds 12 points per game.
For South Shore, Megan Gustafson leads the state in scoring at 31.1 points per game. Her sister, Emily, averages 18 points per game and leads the state in rebounding at 17.7 per game. Janice Anderson (Jolene’s sister) averages 16.7 points per game and leads the state in assists at 8.1 per game. Freshman Alyssa Kavajecz and junior Jenna Sorenson round out the starting five. Morgan Sorenson is the first Cardinal off the bench.
Other team members include senior Taylor Koehler, sophomore Tristan Koehler, sophomore Megan Smith, and freshman Kellie Rock. Clendon Gustafson’s assistant coach is Jodie Truchon, and Austin Tetting is the team manager. Jack Nelson, who previously served as South Shore’s boys’ team coach, is the athletic director at the school.
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