Season's endSuperior girls fall to Milwaukee Riverside in state semifinal game
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
GREEN BAY — Superior High School’s first trip to the WIAA Division 1 girls state basketball tournament in 18 years ended in tears Friday night with a 69-55 loss to Milwaukee Riverside at the Resch Center.
The Spartans led early in the second quarter, 19-17, but Milwaukee Riverside followed with 11 unanswered points to take control of the game.
Milwaukee Riverside went on to defeat Mukwonago 55-41 Saturday night to claim the Division 1 state title.
“The key was just going straight man-to-man full court,” said Donald Nelson, Milwaukee Riverside head coach. “We throw a lot of different defenses at teams to see if we can catch them off balance … but man-to-man, our girls get real intense. That’s their signature defense.”
Superior committed five straight turnovers during Milwaukee Riverside’s run, three of which resulted in fast-break layups for the Lady Tigers. The Spartans also struggled with fouls in the second quarter, as Abby Clemons picked up her third personal at 4:48 and then went to the bench with her fourth at 2:35.
“That’s a huge blow to the team, and that’s right when that run ended up happening,” said Phil Roe, head coach of the Spartans. “She’s one of our best defenders, especially playing post defense; and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. … So to lose our best post defender really hurt us and it exposed us. We don’t have the deepest team.”
With Clemons on the bench, Milwaukee Riverside ended the quarter on 7-4 run to take a 41-27 lead into halftime. The Lady Tigers outscored Superior 28-16 in the second quarter.
“Aside from that one run, I think the game could have gone either way,” Roe said. “We battled as hard as we could.”
Jessica Lindstrom, who finished with 19 points for Superior, faced strong pressure from the Lady Tigers in the paint. She spent the last 15 seconds of the first half on the bench with a bloody nose but didn’t back down in the second half.
Lindstrom pulled down 22 rebounds for the night, 11 on the offensive glass. The Division 1 state tournament record for most rebounds in a single game is 25, set by Theresa Huff of Milwaukee Riverside in 1978.
“We knew they were physical,” Lindstrom said. “We watched film on them and we realized they liked to push around a lot. So we realized what we were up against right when we came out on the court.”
Milwaukee started the game with a 6-0 run in the opening two minutes. The Lady Tigers lobbed the ball inside to 6-foot-5 center Breanna Lewis for the first three points, and Alona Johnson hit what would be Milwaukee Riverside’s only 3-pointer of the night at 6:10.
Hailey Kontny gave Superior its first points of the night at 5:19 when she drove from the left wing and put up a floater in the lane. Milwaukee Riverside went back inside to Lewis on the next play to put the lead back to six, but a free throw from Lindstrom and a pull-up jumper from Kontny made it 8-5 with 4:28 left in the quarter.
Lindstrom then scored the final six points of the quarter for Superior to put the Spartans within two, 13-11.
Clemons gave Superior its first lead of the night 40 seconds into the second quarter with a 3-pointer that hit the back rim and rattled in.
The game was tied three times in the next two minutes as the Tigers and Spartans traded baskets. The last tie came at 19-19, just as Milwaukee Riverside was beginning its 11-0 run.
Milwaukee Riverside extended its lead to 28-19 before a pair of free throws by Alyssa Correll snapped the 11-0 run with 3:54 to play in the second quarter.
Superior trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half but outscored Milwaukee Riverside 18-14 in the fourth quarter to end the game trailing 69-55.
“We just kept going at them and we tried our best to get back in the game. We did the best we could on defense and tried to score with the ball when we could,” Kontny said. “I’m just proud of everybody for working as hard as they did. We hustled as hard as we could, and honestly I wouldn’t take back anything that happened in the game because we gave it our all and left it all on the court.”
Kontny led the Spartans in scoring with 20 points and four assists. She and Lindstrom accounted for more than 70 percent of Superior’s scoring, and both juniors played the entire 32 minutes of the game.
“We knew Superior had a two-headed monster,” Nelson said. “With them being so far up north it was hard to get film on them in this short a time. So we just had to look at some stats and talk to a few people and try to see what we could do.”
Amani Wilborn and Lewis led Milwaukee Riverside in scoring, finishing with 20 points apiece. The Lady Tigers scored 46 points in the paint and had 21 points off of turnovers.
Neither team shot well from the free-throw line, with Superior making 19-of-35 shots and Milwaukee Lutheran making 12-of-26.
Superior finished the night shooting just 30.9 percent from the floor and 54.3 percent from the free-throw line.
“I’m proud of my girls. They battled until the end,” Roe said. “Obviously Riverside had that one run in the second quarter, and it was tough for us. It seemed like every time we’d try to chip into that lead and chip into that lead we didn’t get a call here or there. But I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.”
Referees called a high number of fouls in Friday’s game, with Milwaukee Riverside whistled for 25 and Superior called for 19. Wilborn fouled out for the Lady Tigers with 3:28 to play, and Clemons and Lindstrom both ended the night with four fouls each for Superior.
“We fouled a little bit too much tonight, but we’ll take that,” Nelson said.
Superior’s struggled to figure out how the referees were calling the game, Roe said. Clemons picked up three quick touch fouls in the first half, but players were allowed more leniency when battling for rebounds.
“So we didn’t know whether we could have a physical game or a touch game, and it kind of got the best of us,” Roe said.
“It is what it is, but I’m really proud of this group of girls. No one can question they played their hardest, because they played their hearts out that entire time.”
The road ahead
Superior finishes its season with a 23-4 record, but two of its losses came to eventual state champions. Milwaukee Riverside defeated Mukwonago to claim the WIAA Division 1 title, and DeLaSalle won the Class AAA title in Minnesota.
Roe said DeLaSalle was probably the best team Superior played all season, and playing the Twin Cities team helped the Spartans prepare for Milwaukee Riverside.
“I think if we hadn’t had the tough schedule with Eden Prairie and DeLaSalle, there’s no doubt that we would have been intimidated in the first quarter,” Roe said. “Instead we made it a two-point game after one (quarter), and I think people realized this team’s for real.
“Now we’re getting all sorts of e-mails — teams from Milwaukee, Brookfield, Green Bay. We’ll definitely add some teams and we’ll be ready for next year. This is just going to make the girls even hungrier for that gold ball.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Lewis, who is headed to Kansas State next year, scored her 1,000th career point during Friday night’s game. … Playing their last game for the Spartans were seniors Natalie Kintop, Alison Wainionpaa and Clemons. “Being here itself was amazing, so we’re all thankful for that,” Clemons said.
Mil. Riverside 13 28 14 14 — 69
Superior 11 16 10 18 — 55
Milwaukee Riverside — Breanna Lewis 20, Amani Wilborn 20, Alona Johnson 8, Brionna Simond 7, Aliyah Gipson 6, Shaunte Tucker 4, Tianna Fudge 2, Jazlyn Drake 2.
3-point goals — Johnson.
Superior — Hailey Kontny 20, Jessica Lindstrom 19, Alyssa Correll 8, Abby Clemons 6, Alison Wainionpaa 2.
3-point goals — Kontny, Clemons.