NOTE: The Final Four and Championship results of the SWNews4U.com 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 10-11. The Girls All-Dream Tournament Team will be published in the same area newspapers June 17-18.
by Tom Gunnell
2007 Cuba City 64, 2014 Barneveld 57
MADISON — In a battle of unbeatens at the old Barn, the 2017 Cuba City Cubans laid claim to the championship title of the SWNews4U.com Southwest Wisconsin Girls Basketball Dream Tournament with a down-to-the-wire 64–57 victory over the 2014 Barneveld Golden Eagles at the UW–Madison Fieldhouse.
The Cubans (33–0) outscored the Golden Eagles (33–1) in the fourth quarter 21–16 to pull out the championship victory, going 6-for-8 from the free throw line over the final minute of play to seal yet another gold trophy for the Cuba City trophy case.
With such dominant programs over the past 30+ seasons, it seemed inevitable that these two programs would meet in the finals of this tournament. And, these two teams proved to be the very best of the best that southwest Wisconsin has to offer.
Led by Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame head coach Jeff Pustina — who stepped down at Cuba City in 2019 to become an assistant women’s basketball coach at UW–Platteville after posting a 662–139 career record (.826) in 32 seasons at the school with 12 state appearances, nine state titles and one runner-up finish — the Cubans finished up a back-to-back-to-back run of WIAA Division 4 state titles with a eye-popping 70–28 victory over Amherst in the 2007 finale.
Pustina’s Cubans posted an 80–1 overall record during their amazing three-year run from 2004–07, joining Beaver Dam (2017–19), Flambeau (2006–08), Milwaukee Vincent (2007–09) and Milwaukee Washington (1994–96) as the only three-time state champions in WIAA history.
Pustina sits in third place on the state’s all-time list of girls’ basketball coaching victories with 662 wins behind Owen–Withee’s Al Guthman (710) and Barneveld’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Myers (699).
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).
Myers’ Eagles made four straight appearances at the state tournament from 2013 through 2016, winning titles in ’14 and ’15 and adding runner-up finishes in ’13 and ’16. Led by future University of Nebraska standout guard Hannah Whitish, the Eagles went 110–4 during their four-year run.
Whitish — a two-time Six Rivers Eastern Conference Player of the Year and a four-time first-team All-State selection who was also named Wisconsin’s Miss Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year 2016 — would go on to become a two-time All-Big 10 player with the Huskers and finished her career ranked third in 3-pointers made (258), sixth in assists (470) and 19th in scoring (1,228) in school history, while becoming the first player in Husker history to reach combined career milestones of 1,000 points, 400 assists and 200 3-pointers.
Using a balanced scoring attack that featured six players scoring six or more points and a group defensive effort to contain the Barneveld combo of sophomore H. Whitish and junior Rachel Slaney, the senior-led Cubans battled their way to the Dream Tournament title.
The Cubans got off to a fast start roaring out to a 15–5 first quarter lead. The Eagles made some adjustments in between quarters and fought their way back to within four of the Cubans by the intermission at 25–21.
A 6–0 run to begin the third quarter pushed Cuba City’s advantage back to double figures, however Myers’ crew buckled down and outscored Pustina’s bunch 16–4 the rest of the way to trim the gap to 43–41 heading into the final frame.
Senior forward Tami Gleason, who had to sit with foul trouble for stretches in the second and third quarters, made up for lost time by pouring in eight of her team’s first 10 points in the fourth quarter to pit the Cubans ahead 53–45.
A 3-pointer by Hannah Whitish and a putback basket by junior center Maggie Oimoen got the Eagles within four at 58–54 with 1:07 to go, but Gleason (2-for-2) and senior point guard Molly Moor (4-for-6) were clutch from the foul line down the stretch to seal the victory and the championship title for Cuba City.
Gleason, who went on to play D2 volleyball at UW–Parkside, poured in a game-high 19 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots to lead the Cubans. Senior Kaitlyn Pustina scored 10 points and recorded five assists and three steals, while junior Briana Kaisier tallied nine points, five boards and four steals in the win.
Junior Kelsey Pustina followed with eight points. Moor chipped in with seven points and junior Brianna Droessler added six for the champion Cubans.
Hannah Whitish sank three 3s on her way to a team-best 17 points. Slaney netted 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds with three assists and two steals, while Oimoen contributed eight points, 10 boards and a block for Barneveld.
Senior McKenzie Sporle scored seven points and freshman Mia Whitish netted six for the Eagles.
2007 Cuba City 64, 2014 Barneveld 57
(at Fieldhouse, Madison)
Cuba City 15 10 18 21 — 64
Barneveld 5 16 20 16 — 57
2007 Cuba City (33–0) — Tami Gleason 19, Kaitlyn Pustina 10, Brianna Kaiser 9, Kelsey Pustina 8, Molly Moor 7, Brianna Droessler 6, Katie Wallenhorst 3, Stephanie Wagner 2. Totals — 24 12-17 64.
2014 Barneveld (33–1) — Hannah Whitish 17, Rachel Slaney 14, Maggie Oimoen 8, McKenzie Sporle 7, Mia Whitish 6, Danielle Straubhaar 3, Hailey Kleppe 2, Cayla Carden 2. Totals — 21 10-13 57.
3-point goals — CC: 4 (Ke. Pustina 2, Moor 1, Ka. Pustina 1), B: 5 (H. Whitish 3, Slaney 1, M. Whitish 1).
by Tom Gunnell
2007 Cuba City 66, 2015 Cuba City 62 (2OT)
MADISON — There have been some bizarre matchups during the SWNews4U.com Boys and Girls Basketball Dream Tournaments, but none have been as wild and emotional as the Final Four clash of Cuba City greats as Hall of Fame head coach Jeff Pustina led his 2007 Lady Cubans up against his own 2015 Cubans in a battle for supremacy in the City of Presidents.
Not only did Pustina have a strong attachment to these two teams as their coach, but he also was quite involved as a parent since two of his daughters, Kaitlyn and Kelsey, played together of the 2007 squad, which posted an 80–1 overall record while winning three straight WIAA state title from 2005–07, while his youngest daughter, Chloe, was a senior leader on the 2015 team, which went 80–3 while advancing to state three straights seasons from 2013–15 and winning back-to-back titles in ’14 and ’15.
The Pustinas weren’t the only family feuding in the game. Sisters Briana and Emily Kaiser (2007) squared off against younger sibling Kaitlyn Kaiser (2015) and Katie Langmeier (2007) faced her first cousin Rachel Langmeier (2015) on the court. Two more sets of sisters — Molly and Megan Moor and Tami and Amy Gleason — teamed up for the 2007 Cubans.
And, true to most family feuds it was a knock-down-drag–out fight to the very end with a younger Coach Pustina leading his 2007 Cubans over his older self’s 2015 Cubans in a wild 66–62 double-overtime decision at the UW–Madison Fieldhouse.
Senior point guard Molly Moor came up with a clutch steal at midcourt and turned it into a breakaway layup to snap at 64–64 tie with 27 seconds left; and then, following a missed 3-point attempt by junior guard Jessi Marti, senior guard Kaitlyn Pustina sank a pair of free throws to ice the victory for her father over her father eight years in the future.
The 2007 Cubans (32–0) held a slim 26–25 advantage at the intermission and were still clinging to their lead at the end of regulation when senior guard Shay Lierman buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining on the clock to deadlock the score at 52–52 and force overtime.
The teams traded baskets in the first extra period. Senior point guard Chloe Pustina gave the 2015 Cubans (32–1) a 58–56 lead with a driving layup through traffic with just over a minute to go, however the 2007 squad answered back with a basket by junior forward Briana Kaiser to knot the score once again.
Senior center Tami Gleason had a chance to win it for the 2007 Cubans at the buzzer, but her shot was partially blocked by 2015 senior Mollie Wedige forcing a second OT.
Chloe Pustina gave the 2015 Cubans the early lead with a pair of free throws to start the second extra stanza, but sister Kaitlyn tied it again with a basket. A Marti jumper made it 62–60 in 2015’s favor, however another Pustina — Kelsey — stepped up with a basket to tie the game at 62–62 with under a minute to play.
The defense stepped up for the 2007 squad down the stretch as they pulled away for a thrilling four-point victory over Cuba City’s future stars.
Gleason, who was selected as the West Regional Most Outstanding Player after averaging 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks per game for the 2007 team, turned in a monster game with 16 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, three steals and three assists.
Moor followed with 13 points, four assists and two steals, while Kaitlyn Pustina tallied 11 points and two steals and Kaiser recorded nine points, seven boards and four steals. Kelsey Pustina chipped in with eight points, three assists and three steals, and junior Brianna Droessler added five points in the win.
Wedige posted a double–double to lead the 2015 Cubans, finishing 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three blocks, two steals and two assists.
Marti, who averaged over 18 points per game on her way to being named the South Regional Most Outstanding Player, was held to 13 points. Chloe Pustina had 11 points and four assists, while Lierman netted 10 points. Marti, Pustina and Lierman each notched two steals.
Junior Kaitlyn Kaiser scored seven points and pulled down seven boards, while tallying three assists, two steals and a block in the loss.
2007 Cuba City 66, 2015 Cuba City 62 (2 OT)
(at Fieldhouse, Madison)
2007 Cuba City…10 16 13 13 6 6 —66
2015 Cuba City…10 15 12 16 6 2 —62
2007 Cuba City (32–0) — Tami Gleason 16, Molly Moor 13, Kaitlyn Pustina 11, Brianna Kaiser 9, Kelsey Pustina 8, Brianna Droessler 5, Katie Wallenhorst 2, Kristen Klein 2. Totals — 23 16-23 66.
2015 Cuba City (32–1) — Mollie Wedige 14, Jessi Marti 13, Chloe Pustina 11, Shay Lierman 10, Kaitlyn Kaiser 7, Morgan Vosberg 3, Ally Averkamp 2, Rachel Langmeier 2. Totals — 20 15-17 62.
3-point goals — CC07: 4 (Ka. Pustina 2, Moor 1, Droessler 1), CC15: 7 (Marti 2, C. Pustina 2, Lierman 2, Vosberg 1).
by Jason Nihles
2014 Barneveld 51, 2018 Black Hawk 50
MADISON — Sophomore Hannah Whitish saved the day, banking home a contested layup off the glass over a pair of defenders to lift the 2014 Barneveld Golden Eagles to a dramatic victory over 2019 Black Hawk in a Girls Dream Tournament semifinal at the UW-Field House.
Whitish was the 2016 Wisconsin Miss Basketball who went on to a stellar four-year career at Nebraska after leading the Golden Eagles to a 110–4 record, two Division 5 state titles and four D5 state championship game appearances in her four-year varsity career.
She was harassed relentlessly throughout this classic matchup by 2019 Black Hawk’s two D1 recruits junior Natalie Leuzinger and sophomore Bailey Butler.
Leuzinger, who is headed to Wisconsin next year as a preferred walk-on, was nearly the hero after she buried a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Warriors (32–1) a 50–49 lead with 22 seconds left to play, but Whitish came up with the biggest play of the back-and-forth affair.
After Leuzinger’s go-ahead triple, Butler and the Warriors denied Whitish the ball on the inbound.
Junior Rachel Slaney, who played two years at Madison College, winning a NJCAA national title before finishing her college career at Cleveland State, got the ball into the front court against the Warriors aggressive press and Barneveld coach Jim Myers called a timeout with 16 seconds left to draw up a final play.
Black Hawk coach Mike Flanagan doubled Whitish on the inbound play and again denied her the ball.
The 5’9” guard circled under the hoop brushing off a pair of screens to free herself from Bailey Butler for just a moment catching the ball on the right wing with six seconds left.
As Black Hawk sophomore Kaylee Marty rushed Whithish to trap the ball, the Barneveld star spur to her left toward the baseline back toward the recovering Butler. Whitish got a step on her defender with an in-and-out dribble and drove hard toward the right block where the 5’9” Leuzinger was waiting to draw a charge.
With Butler still right on her left hip, Whitish leaped and somehow slithered between both Leuzinger and Butler, avoiding contact while flipping up the game-winner than fell through the net as the final buzzer sounded.
Whitish, the North Regional Most Outstanding Player, finished the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists for the undefeated Eagles (33–0), who advanced to face fellow unbeaten 2007 Cuba City (32–0) in the SWNews4U.com SW Wisconsin Dream Tournament Championship Game.
Whitish scored six points in the first quarter as the Eagles jumped out to a 14–7 lead, but the Barneveld star struggled the rest of the half, scoring just three points on 1 of 6 from the field in the second quarter.
Junior Hannah Butler scored 6 of her 12 points in the second quarter, Bailey Butler buried a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter as Flanagan’s Warriors snatch the lead at 24–22 with two minutes left in the half.
Slaney drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to put Barneveld back in front by a point, but junior guard Maddy Huschitt answered with a long two (her toe was on the line) and Leuzinger converted a breakaway layup just before the halftime buzzer sounded to give the Warriors a 29–25 lead at the break.
After struggling with her jumper in the second quarter, Whitish began attacking the hoop early in the third.
She sliced through the Black Hawk defense for a layup, then drove and drew a double-team before a nifty bounce pass to junior center Maggie Oimoen, who tied the game with an uncontested layup.
After Leuzinger made a pair of free throws, Slaney drilled another 3-pointer, then scored on a drive as Barneveld regained the lead.
Barneveld’s Mia Whitish answered a basket by Marty, but Hannah Whitish closed the period with a trey from the top of the key as Barneveld built a 39–35 lead entering the fourth.
Leuzinger scored back-to-back baskets early in the fourth period to tie the game, but Slaney answered with a pull-up jumper to start an 8–2 Barneveld run, and Whitish converted a three-point plan during the spurt, that gave the Eagles a 47–41 lead with 3:37 left.
Hannah Butler scored a layup, and Bailey Butler drilled a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game.
Oimoen scored on a putback for Barneveld, and Bailey Butler scored on a feed from Marty to make it 49–47 with just over a minute left.
After Black Hawk forced Whitish into a turnover, Flanagan called timeout and set up the play that resulted in Leuzinger’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.
Leuzinger, the East Regional Most Outstanding Player, finished with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Leuzinger led Black Hawk to a 102–3 mark, three D5 state tournaments and the 2019 state title. The Warriors were probably headed for a second straight D5 crown, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the WIAA Girls Basketball State Tournament.
Bailey Butler, who has committed to play at D1 UW–Green Bay beginning in 2021, finished with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Hannah Butler added 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Marty chipped in four points and two assists and Huschitt added two points and two steals.
After Whitish’s game-high 21 points, Slaney added 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the victorious Eagles. Oimoen added eight points and eight boards off the bench, while Mia Whitish chipped in four points and two rebounds. Seniors McKenzie Sporle and Hailey Kleppe scored two points apiece.
2014 Barneveld 51, 2018 Black Hawk 50
(at UW–Field House, Madison)
Barneveld 14 11 14 12 — 51
Black Hawk 7 22 6 15 — 50
2014 Barneveld (33–0) — Hannah Whitish 21, Rachel Slaney 14, Maggie Oimoen 8, Mia Whitish 4, McKenzie Sporle 2, Hailey Kleppe 2. Totals —18 11-18 51.
2019 Black Hawk (32–1) — Natalize Leuzinger 17, Bailey Butler 15, Hannah Butler 12, Kaylee Marty 4, Maddy Huschitt 2. Totals — 19 8-12 50.
3-point goals — Barn: 4 (H. Whitish 3, Slaney 3), BH: 4 (B. Butler 3, Leuzinger 1).