Northwood lived up to its billing as the top seed as the Evergreens cruised to a 52-25 girls basketball victory over second-seeded Solon Springs in their Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 5 regional final Saturday, Feb. 13, in Minong.
It was Solon Springs’ first girls regional championship appearance since 1997. The game started slow for both teams offensively as the Eagles hung around for the first eight minutes of the contest.
Then Northwood’s size and aggressiveness started to wear down a Solon Springs’ team lacking in numbers. The Evergreens (16-3) got a lot of second-chance points inside and pulled away to lead 31-10 at the half. The second half was more of the same as Northwood plays a tough two-three zone and contests every shot.
“We knew it would be a tough task,” Eagles coach Adam Bielmeier said. “Northwood has an athletic group. They fly around and create turnovers. We have to take our hats off to them and wish them luck in sectional play. For us to make it as far as we did was an awesome accomplishment of its own.”
Gretchen Hammond and Maddelyn Swanson scored six points apiece to lead Solon Springs (9-11) in a game where points were hard to come by. Claire Holmstrom added five.
Solon Springs advanced to the regional final with a 55-42 home victor over Winter on Friday, Feb. 12, in the regional semifinals.
Winter got the early lead but got into foul trouble as Solon Springs kept it close and trailed only 22-20 at the half. The start of the second half was close before the Eagles started pulling away, with Winter in foul trouble most of the second half and sending the Eagles to the free-throw line, where they made 29 of 42.
“Winter gave us a battle, but the girls were able to fight through it and then finish it off at the end,” Bielmeier said.
Sophomore guard Kyra Latvala shook off a tough first half to lead Solon Springs with 19 points while grabbing a season-high 12 rebounds. She also had four assists and three steals. Holmstrom had a big night with 15 points and 17 rebounds, battling inside to control the rebounds and create second-chance points.
Bailey Monson added 10 points and seven rebounds and along with Swanson, played excellent defense in containing Winters’ top two scorers.
“The girls battled the entire night and played some great basketball,” Bielmeier said. “I was so proud of what they did and how they played. It was a fun game and a great playoff win.”
With only eight players on the roster and only one senior, Muree Ahlberg, Solon Springs somehow found a way to fight through attrition and make it to the end of a shortened season defined by COVID-19.
With all five starters expected back next season, Bielmeier is excited about the future.
“This group made coaching a joy,” Bielmeier said. “They battled every single game from start to finish, and they were such an awesome bunch to be around. Having things come to an end can always be difficult, but looking back at the memories made and the accomplishments they were able to add to Solon Springs basketball makes me proud.
“The program would also like to thank Muree for her four years of hard work and dedication. She is the ideal teammate. She has a big heart and is the definition of a team player. She has a lot to be proud of these last 4 years. This is a special team and still very young. The future is bright for Solon Springs girls basketball.”