They were only one game away from going to state and they weren’t going to be denied.
A determined Seneca girls basketball team used a fast start Saturday in LaCrosse on their way to a 50-41 win over Chippewa Falls McDonell Central and a trip to Madison. The Indians raced to a 13-4 lead in the first quarter and held on the rest of the way.
The Macks gained some ground in the second quarter narrowing Seneca’s lead to just six points at halftime at 20-14.
The Indians rebuilt the lead in the second half and crushed several Mack runs with timely key three-pointers. For the game, Seneca hit six three-pointers, which included four from Logan Lessard. In fact, the junior guard hit one in every quarter. The Macks managed just one three-pointer in the game.
Another major factor in the game were the fouls and free throws. The refs called 45 fouls and there were 62 free throws attempted.
The fouls caused both teams problems, but it hit Seneca in the first quarter. Senior forward Sawyer Roberts, who played so well in the game against Potosi, picked up two fouls quickly in the first quarter. Before Seneca coach Kim Redman could get her out of the game, she picked up her third foul. Roberts spent the rest of the half on the bench.
Redman credited her replacement, junior forward Alexis Payne, with doing a fine job.
However, with Roberts on the bench, the Indians did struggle in the second quarter. Their cause wasn’t helped by missing some easy shots underneath.
The game got extremely physical in the second and third quarters. Despite all of the fouls called in the game, Redman though there could have been more called. The coach complained later that minor fouls were being called in the third quarter, while a lot of the pushing and shoving was not.
“It got ugly, especially in the third quarter,” Redman said later.
Although the Indians led by nine at the end of the first quarter and won the game by nine points, it didn’t mean McDonell didn’t make some runs. In fact, the Macks cut the lead to just four points in the fourth quarter before another Seneca three-pointer turned things around.
The foul-plagued game got even slower in the fourth quarter as McDonell was forced to resort to fouling Seneca in attempt to get the ball. The Indians converted on 13 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter.
In this hard-fought game, as in may Seneca victories this season, the Indian defense played a big role. Redman was particularly pleased by the defensive play of guards Logan Lessard and Taylor Redman who held the Mack’s high-scoring 5’9” senior guard Sarah Schoch to just 12 points. Redman noted that Lessard is 5’6” and Taylor is 5’3”.
As is often the case, Seneca’s post player Kalli Boland led all scorers with 23 points, while Lessard scored 15 points. Redman scored six points and Payne scored three points, while Heather Wall scored two points. Roberts was held to just one point.
McDonell got most of their scoring from Schoh and their other guard, Jalen Knowlten, who scored 11 points. Knowlten did well at the free throw line where she was 7 of 11.
The Seneca Indians will face a strong Milwaukee Heritage Christian High School Team Thursday afternoon with tip-off around 3:15 p.m. following the Owen-Withee Wausau Newman Catholic game.
The Patriots of Milwaukee Heritage Christian will start junior forward Jazmine Harris, who is being watched by Division 1 colleges as a potential recruit. While the Indians will bring their undefeated 26-0 record to Madison, the Patriots are 22-4 overall.
“I really don’t know much about them,” coach Redman said of the Indians’ semifinal round opponent. “We’ll watch some game tapes. I do know they are very quick and like to drive and penetrate.”
The Indians averaged 55 points per game this season and the Patriots averaged 60 points per game.
This will be the second appearance in the state tournament for the Seneca girls basketball team. The Indians played and lost a semifinal game in 1983.
Many who were part of the 1983 team attended the game last Saturday. One of those players, Shelly Biggin, a North Crawford teacher and varsity basketball coach, recalled the moment earlier this week.
“It would be nice if they could bring the ball home that we should’ve had,” Biggin said. “We were up by 14 (points) at halftime and wound up losing by one (point).”
Among players on the 1983 team were Seneca coach Kim Redman’s sister Karen Greene and Katy Lynch.