MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (Jan. 10–17)
SWAL GIRLS BASKETBALL: #3 Cuba City 55, Mineral Point 49
By Casey Lindecrantz, Republican Journal / Tri-County Press
#3 Cubans overcome nailbiter in final minute
MINERAL POINT — Tuesday, Jan. 10 saw a matchup between two powerhouses in Wisconsin girls’ basketball as undefeated #3-ranked Cuba City (14–0, 7–0) made the trip to face off against Mineral Point (10–4, 6–1) in one of the rowdiest environments in southwest Wisconsin, edging out the Pointers, 55-49, in the final moments of the game.
The Cubans raced out to a 5–2 lead in the opening seconds with the Mineral Point head coach, Michael Keyes, easily out-yelling the crowd, making his displeasure with the open to Tuesday night’s game clear for all to see.
Even from the opening minutes, it was easy to tell neither team would be cruising to a victory - both squads played fast, tough defense to open up scoring opportunities.
“Both teams knew this would be a good matchup,” said Cuba City head coach Jason Derby. “Mineral Point is the defending state champion and a strong program year-in and year-out.”
Scoring runs weren’t plentiful in this matchup so much as trading baskets was.
Ashley Rowe would sink a pair of baskets for the Cubans over a 30 second time period, then the Pointers’ Laci Lindsey would drain a pair of three’s with a two-pointer by Kennedy Wenger to catch right back up.
As the first half neared its end, Mineral Point would actually go on a 9–2 run to bring the score to a 27–21 lead for the Pointers off a slew of baskets by Ella Kroll, Katelyn Cox, and Belle Watters, sending the home crowd into a frenzy with only 2:11 on the clock.
Even as Cuba City played good team ball to get the score to 28–27 with baskets by Summer Rogers (two points at 1:55), Olivia Olson (two points off free throws at 1:09), and Jenna Dailey (a three-pointer with 35.3 to go). Mineral Point found a way with only 15.1 seconds left to get Lindsey the ball and take a 29–28 lead over the Cubans going into the break.
As the girls hit the court in the second half, whatever Derby said in the locker room ignited them to open the second half.
Rowe, Ella Vosberg, and Olson all saw scoring opportunities in the first 1:30 of the second half to take a 34–29 lead, their biggest of the game so far.
However, the Pointers’ Cox took things into her own hands with four points off a pair of free throws and a two-pointer to bring the game back to 34–32 moments later.
Another 8–2 run in favor of the Cubans later forced Keyes to slow the game down, as Cuba City was up 45–34 at this point, with a timeout that sent the visiting Cuban crowd into an uproar.
Coming out of that quick break, Cuba City employed a full court press that ended up backfiring as Kroll, Wenger, and Lindsey went on a 11–3 run from 11:06 all the way down to 4:00 that brought the game to a slim 48–47 lead favoring the Cubans.
Following a timeout by Cuba City, Cox promptly scored a two pointer at 3:21 to give Mineral Point their first lead since they opened the half.
Vosberg scored a pair of baskets only a minute later to give the Cubans a three point lead with 2:15 on the clock.
After a missed free throw on a one-and-one attempt by Lindsey with only 1:29 on the clock, the Pointers started committing intentional personal fouls, a strategy that was unsuccessful.
They sent Rowe to the line for a one-and-one where she drained one-of-two to slide the score to 53–49.
Following an unsuccessful scoring attempt resulting from a Cuba City turnover, the Pointers sent Dea Crist to the line for another one-and-one attempt, and she made both attempts, icing the match, 55–49, with only 5.5 second on the clock.
“Our guards really handled Mineral Point's defensive pressure well throughout the game,” said Derby. “It was important for us to not turn the ball over, and we did a nice job of that. Mineral Point really worked to take away a couple players for us offensively, and Jenna Dailey was able to shoot the ball like the shooter she is.”
The Cubans will get to enjoy a lighter week as their only matchup will be a conference game at home tonight (Thursday, Jan. 19) against Darlington (9–6, 4–2).
Cuba City 55, Mineral Point 49
(from Tuesday, Jan. 10 @ Mineral Point)
Cuba City.............28 27 — 55
Mineral Point.....29 20 — 49
Cuba City (13–0, 6-0) — Emily Weigman 2, Ashley Rowe 9, Ella Vosberg 14, Summer Rogers 3, Olivia Olson 7, Jenna Dailey 16, Alexis Runde 2, Dea Crist 2. Totals — 20-60 10-13 55.
Mineral Point (9–4, 5-1) — Laci Lindsey 11, Belle Watters 5, Ella Kroll 2, Kennedy Wenger 15, Katelyn Cox 16. Totals — 20-57 6-12 49.
3-point goals — B: 5-21 (Olson 1, Dailey 4), MP: 3-22 (Lindsey 3). Team fouls — CC: 12, MP: 15. Fouled out — none.