Marshfield's Darian Molter scores inside during the first quarter of the Tigers' loss to Wausau Newman Catholic on Wednesday night at Marshfield High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
Marshfield guard Ellie Kummer drives to the basket during the Tigers' game against Wausau Newman Catholic on Wednesday night at Marshfield High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
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By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – Wausau Newman Catholic used its relentless defensive pressure to make two big runs in Wednesday’s opening round of the Marshfield Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament. Marshfield survived the first one, but not the second.
The Cardinals, the defending WIAA Division 5 state champions and the No. 1-ranked D-5 team in the latest Wissports.Net Coaches Poll, scored 11 points in a 24-second span midway through the fourth quarter and held off a late charge by the Tigers to win 73-69 and advance to Thursday’s tournament championship game against Oshkosh West. Marshfield (4-2) will play Green Bay Preble (3-2) in the third-place game at 3:45 p.m., with the title game set for 5:30 p.m.
Daley Rupar’s basket made it 58-54 following an offensive rebound. At the same time, a technical foul was called on the Marshfield bench. Sarah Connolly, who finished with 36 points, made both free throws and Abigail Connolly made two more free throws after the Cardinals kept possession. Newman’s defense forced two turnovers in the backcourt and Sarah Connolly scored five points off the Marshfield miscues, quickly opening up a 10-point lead.
“Anytime you give up 36 points to one kid and 73 in a game, you’re not going to win a lot of games,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said. “The thing that I preach to my kids is defense and this was a great game to show that you can’t score enough points in some games to win. We scored 69, that’s the most we scored all year, but if you don’t play defense, you’re not going to win.”
Marshfield chipped away at the Cardinals’ lead, getting to within 69-64 after three free throws by Caitlin Michaelis, a three-point play by Taylor Varsho and another hoop by Michaelis.
Newman (7-0) made four of six free throws in the final 28 seconds and Marshfield got no closer than the final margin of four after Michaelis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“You try to meet aggressiveness with aggressiveness,” Heidi Michaelis said. “If you do that, you’re going to get easy looks. When we attacked and took care of the ball, we got good looks and good shots and we attacked the basket. If you choose to be scared and dribble to a corner and not have your head up, they feed off of that. The runs they had were mistake, mistake, mistake.”
The game was tight throughout until Newman opened up a 52-42 lead with an 8-0 run late in the third quarter. The Cardinals scored six points in 20 seconds as they forced two Marshfield turnovers in the backcourt and Sarah Connolly had a pair of layups to cap the run.
Marshfield quickly retaliated scoring the final seven points of the quarter. Caitlin Michaelis hit her second straight 3-pointer and Courtney Bauer scored inside off a crisp pass from Taylor Varsho to tie the game at 54-54 1:36 into the fourth.
Newman then cranked up the pressure again, forcing three straight Marshfield turnovers to spark the 13-0 run that broke the game open.
Darian Molter had two three-point plays in the first quarter to help the Tigers build a 14-6 lead, but Newman, behind Sarah Connolly’s seven points, closed out the quarter with a 12-3 run and led 18-17 after 8 minutes.
There were two ties and three lead changes in the second quarter as Newman maintained its one-point lead at 34-33 going into halftime.
Michaelis and Varsho each had 16 points, Courtney Bauer added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tiffany Stargardt had seven points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers.
Rupar added 18 points for Newman.
Cardinals 73, Tigers 69
Newman 18 16 18 21 – 73
Marshfield 17 16 16 20 – 69
NEWMAN (73): Brianna Jankowski 3-6 0-1 6, Sarah Connolly 13-25 8-11 36, Daley Rupar 6-11 6-9 18, Abigail Connolly 2-4 2-2 6, Christina Grunow 0-5 2-3 2, Grace Kennedy 2-3 0-0 4, Madison Tubbs 0-2 1-2 1. FG: 26-56. FT: 19-27. 3-pointers: 2-6 (S. Connolly 2-5, Grunow 0-1). Rebounds: 22 (Jankowski 5, S. Connolly 5). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Kennedy. Record: 7-0.
MARSHFIELD (69): Ellie Kummer 0-2 2-2 2, Taylor Varsho 5-22 5-8 16, Tiffany Stargardt 3-4 1-2 7, Darian Molter 5-8 3-3 13, Caitlin Michaelis 5-13 3-4 16, Sara Fuller 0-0 1-2 1, Leah Ripp 0-1 0-0 0, Mikayla Zimmerman 0-1 0-0 0, Courtney Bauer 7-8 0-0 14, Ellie Fehrenbach 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 25-60. FT: 15-21. 3-pointers: 4-19 (Michaelis 3-7, Varsho 1-10, Kummer 0-1, Ripp 0-1). Rebounds: 39 (Bauer 10, Stargardt 10, Varsho 8). Turnovers: 19. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: none. Record: 4-2.