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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Girls Basketball): Girls Dream Tournament Elite 8 Results
2007 Cuba City, 2015 Cuba City, 2014 Barneveld, 2019 Black Hawk advance to Girls Final Four
Girls Final Four

NOTE: The Elite 8 (Regional Final) results of the SW Wisconsin Girls Dream Tournament were published in the Grant County Herald Independent, The Platteville Journal, Fennimore Times, Republican Journal, Tri-County Press and the Richland Observer June 3-4. Final Four and Championship results will be published in the same area newspapers June 10-11.

West Regional

1) 2007 Cuba City 67, 6) 1999 Potosi 52
PLATTEVILLE — The undefeated 2007 Cubans remained unbeaten behind the sensational one–two punch of senior Tami Gleason and junior Briana Kaiser, who combined to score 37 of their team’s points in a 67–52 victory over sixth-seeded 1999 Potosi.

The magic tournament run by coach Eric Briehl’s 1999 Chieftains (29–2) came to an end, as coach Jeff Pustina’s Cubans (31–0) proved to have the inside game to contain senior Tiff Flesch, and the defensive pressure up front to give senior guard Jamie Nebel fits on the perimeter in a West Regional Final played at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.

Gleason, a Division 2 UW–Parkside volleyball recruit, showed why she was an Associated Press second-team All-State selection by scoring a team-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Defensively, she also had the tough assignment of defending  Flesch, who was limited to 10 points, nearly four points below her season average.

Gleason sparked a second-quarter run for the Cubans, who held a slim lead of 18–15 midway through the session. A blocked shot by Gleason at one end of the floor led to a quick transition basket for coach Pustina’s squad, and a three-point play by the Cuban captain extended their lead to 23–15.

Nebel, Potosi’s top scoring threat, was constantly harassed by the Cuba City defense, who came up with back-to-back steals late in the second quarter to take a 31–19 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Trying to spark some offense into her team, Nebel began taking the ball to the basket in the second half, and she drew numerous fouls on the Cubans. In the second half alone, Nebel made 8 of 10 free throw attempts after not attempting a single free throw in the first.

Cuba City was able to avoid a Potosi run in the second half, as they maintained at least a seven-point lead throughout the third quarter, and then extended their lead midway through the fourth.

With Potosi needing to get more aggressive on defense in an effort to get some steals, the Cubans were able to get to the line, where they made 10 of 12 attempts down the final stretch to seal the deal.

Kaiser, who went on to become an all-conference volleyball player at UW–Platteville, was close behind Gleason in the scorebook with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Senior guards Molly Moor and Kaitlyn Pustina each finished with nine points, while junior Brianna Droessler, who went on to play at D3 Edgewood College, was close behind with seven.

Nebel scored a team-high 20 points for the Chieftains, none of which came easy for the D2 UW–Parkside recruit. Megan Koeller chipped in eight points, while Jena Edge and Kylie Droessler each finished with six, and Shena Rojemann two.

With the 2007 Cubans moving on to our Final Four, it sets up an interesting matchup with another of coach Jeff Pustina’s great teams, the 2015 D4 state champions, who won the South Regional.

South Regional

1) 2015 Cuba City 57, 2) 1999 Barneveld 53
PLATTEVILLE — With two WBCA Hall of Fame coaches leading their back-to-back state championship teams up against one another, the South Regional Championship game was set up to be a classic from the opening tip.

Jeff Pustina’s 2015 Cuba City Cubans used a 23-of-32 performance from the foul line, including a 13-of-18 effort in the fourth quarter, to sink Jim Myers’ 1999 Barneveld Golden Eagles 57–53 in a down-to-the-wire clash at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.

The 2015 Cubans (32–0), who won back-to-back WIAA Division 4 state titles in 2014 and 2015,  trailed by six at the end of the first quarter, but came back to outscore the Golden Eagles (30–1), who were back-to-back D4 state champions in 1998 and 1999, in each of the next three quarters to rally for the victory.

Barneveld’s relentless full-court pressure got to the Cubans early on and fed into the Eagles’ fast-break attack as they turned several turnovers into a quick 16–6 advantage.

Pustina got his team calmed down with two early timeouts; and, once they got settled in, the Cubans began their comeback. Back-to-back baskets by junior guard Jessi Marti and a breakaway layup by senior guard Chloe Pustina cut the deficit down to 18–12 by the close of the opening stanza.

The Cubans grabbed their first lead of the night on a putback by senior center Mollie Wedige with just over a minute remaining in the first half, however the Eagles pulled back to even at 25 all when senior Liz Meyer knocked down a shot in the lane at the buzzer.

Senior guard Jess Arneson netted six of her game-high 20 points in the third quarter to give the Eagles a 34–33 lead, but an old-fashioned three-point play by Wedige in the final seconds sent the Cubans into the final frame up 36–34.

The Cubans extended the lead to as many as seven in the fourth quarter, and then held off a late push by the Eagles thanks to a strong performance at the free throw stripe.

Marti, a two-time SWAL Player of the Year who went on to play at Division 2 Northern State University (S.D.), finished with 16 points and four steals to lead the Cubans, who advance to face their 2007 Cuba City (31–0) counterparts in next week’s Final Four after those Cubans knocked off the 1999 D4 state runner-up Potosi Chieftains in the South Regional final.

Wedige tallied 13 points and eight rebounds, while Pustina, a future standout at UW–Oshkosh, scored nine points and dished out six assists for her father’s squad. Junior Kaitlyn Kaiser added seven points and senior Shay Lierman chipped in with five for the Cubans.

Arneson, the State Line League Player of the Year and a D1 player at UW–Green Bay, tallied five steals and five rebounds to guide the Eagles. Meyer scored 10 points, while senior cousins Megan and Heidi Hodgson added six points apiece.

Myers, a 2016 inductee to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, is currently ranked second in state history in girls’ basketball victories (699) behind Owen–Withee’s Al Guthman (710), while Pustina, a 2018 Hall of Fame honoree, sits in third place all-time with 662 wins.

Pustina, who stepped down at Cuba City in 2019 to become an assistant women’s basketball coach at UW–Platteville, posted a 662–139 career record (.826) in 32 seasons with the Cubans with 12 state appearances, nine state titles and one runner-up finish.

Myers ended his long tenure at Barneveld in 2017 after compiling a 699–138 career record as girls’ coach (.835) and a 63–19 records as boys’ coach (.778) for a 762–157 all-time mark (.829). He also has 12 state appearances (11 with the girls and one with the boys) with seven titles (six girls/one boys) and three runner-up finishes (all with the girls).

North Regional

1) 2014 Barneveld 53, 3) 1976 Lancaster 42
PLATTEVILLE — With perhaps the most talented player from Southwest Wisconsin leading the way, the 2014 D5 state champions from Barneveld advanced to the Final Four with an 11-point 53–42 victory over the 1976 Class B State Champions from Lancaster. 

Barneveld sophomore Hannah Whitish, a University of Nebraska recruit, has been rising to the top in the Southwest Wisconsin Dream Tournament, and rightfully so. The 2016 Wisconsin Miss Basketball selection would be a tough matchup for anyone in any era.

The 1976 Flying Arrows (23–3), who prided themselves on low-scoring games behind a sensational defensive game plan, could not have prepared enough for the likes of Whitish and her incredible athletic talent that gave the edge to Barneveld in this Elite Eight matchup.

Whitish, who averaged 17.1 points per game her sophomore season, scored 23 against the Flying Arrows, who managed to keep this a low-scoring game none-the-less.

Whitish was first matched up defensively with Lancaster junior Jodi Eissens before coach Jewel Henke implemented a 2–3 zone for most of the remaining three quarters. 

Limiting Whitish to 10 points in the first half, the Flying Arrows kept things relatively close, and trailed 23–19 at the half.

A big third quarter by Whitish and junior teammate Rachel Slaney gave the Eagles a comfortable lead of 43–31, as the two combined to score 14 of their team’s 20 points in the third quarter, Whitish dropping in eight, and Slaney six.

Whitish added seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Slaney, a Cleveland State recruit, finished with 11 points and six rebounds. 

Junior Maggie Oimoen finished with seven points and seven rebounds, Mia Whitish six, McKenzie Sporle four and Hailey Kleppe two to lead the undefeated Golden Eagles (32–0).

Barneveld coach Jim Myers implemented an aggressive 1–3–1 full-court zone press on every made basket, making things difficult for the Flying Arrows, who committed 14 turnovers in the contest.

Lancaster got 12 points and six rebounds from Eissens, a UW–Oshkosh recruit, while Kim Pecinovsky added 10, Darcia Davis, a UW–La Crosse recruit, seven, Linda Shaw six and Karla Lambert four.

The North Regional champions from Barneveld move on to the Final Four, to face undefeated 2019 Black Hawk (32–0), which won a Division 5 state championship a year ago behind the trio of Natalie Leuzinger, Bailey Butler and Hannah Butler and appeared headed for a seconds straight title this year before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the rest of the WIAA girls basketball state tournament.

East Regional

1) 2019 Black Hawk 64, 2) 1993 Pecatonica 56
PLATTEVILLE — Sisters Bailey and Hannah Bulter, and junior Natalie Leuzinger combined for 55 points as 2019 Black Hawk held on for a 64–56 victory over two-time state champion 1993 Pecatonica in the East Regional final of the Girls Dream Tournament.

The speedy, talented Warriors dominated the first half of play with their athleticism and full court pressure.

Bailey Butler, a sophomore guard and future D1 UW–Green Bay recruit, scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the first half to lead the undefeated Warriors (32–0) to a 40–24 halftime lead. Butler added six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Hannah Butler, a junior guard who is headed to UW–Platteville for the 2020 season, added 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Leuzinger, who will be a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin this winter, scored six of her 16 points in the first period as  Black Hawk opened up a 20–11 lead. Leuzinger added five rebounds, two steals and two assists.

Coach Mike Flanagan’s Warriors recorded 11 steals, and forced the 1993 Warriors into 22 turnovers to limit the scoring opportunities senior center Nicole Jeglum and junior forward Tracey Powell, especially in the first half when Pecatonica (30–1) struggled to adjust to the speed of Black Hawk’s full court pressure.

But Coach Mitch Wainwright’s Vikings returned the favor early in the second half, using its own defensive pressure to score back-to-back baskets  by Jeglum and fellow senior Barb Kapke after forcing Black Hawk turnovers.

The Vikings chipped away at the lead, outscoring the Warriors 16–12 in the third to trim the deficit to 10 at 52–40 entering the final period. 

Powell, who averaged a team-high 14 points and 10 rebounds before missing the 1993 state tournament with an injury, then scored back-to-back baskets early in the fourth as the Vikings began the quarter on a 10–2 run. Seniors Tami Norton and Steph Jorenby also scored during the spurt, and Jeglum capped the rally with a putback that pulled the Vikings within four at 54–50 with 4:21 left.

Hannah Butler stopped the bleeding with a triple from the right wing and Leuzinger scored on the Warriors’ next possession after Pec’s first miss in six attempts to push the lead back to nine, 59–50, with less than three minutes left.

Black Hawk then made 5 of 7 from the line down the stretch to close out the win, including 3 of 4 from Hannah Butler.

Sophomore Kaylee Marty scored five points in the win, while junior guard Maddy Huschitt added four points for the Warriors. 

Flanagan’s Warriors, who went 28–1 in 2018 and finished second in Division 5, also went a perfect 26–0 and reached the 2020 Division 5 state semifinals before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the rest of the tournament. Together Luezinger and the Butler sisters led Black Hawk to an 82–1 mark and three state tournament appearances from 2018–20.

Wainwright and Powell led the Vikings on a similar run from 1992–94. Pec compiled a 77–4 record and three trips to state, winning D4 state titles in ’93 and ’94.  

Jeglum finished with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds, while Powell added 13 points and nine boards. Senior Barb Kapke chipped in eight points and six rebounds, while Joreby added eight points. Junior Kristin Lee finished with seven and North scored five off the bench.

2020 Black Hawk (32–0) will face fellow unbeaten and North Regional champion 2014 Barneveld (32–0) in next week’s Final Four.