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Cinderella Chieftains earn sectional berth
Potosi uses 346 closing run to stun second-seeded Shullsburg and win WIAA Division 5 title
Potosi team trophy 1
The Potosi Chieftains celebrate following Saturdays 5340 regional final victory at Shullsburg on Saturday night.

     SHULLSBURG — The slipper fits for this year’s Potosi girls basketball team.

     The Chieftains are this year’s Cinderella story after winning the WIAA Division 5 Shullsburg regional title over the weekend, posting come-from-behind road wins on consecutive nights over higher-seeded conference foes.

     Potosi (18–7), which finished fourth in the conference, slugged it out with Six Rivers West runner-up River Ridge Friday night, digging out of an early 13–2 hole to pull out a 49–42 regional semifinal victory over the defensive-minded Timberwolves (18–5).

     Saturday night, the Chieftains used the same box-and-one defense it used to rally past Ridge, to outfox a second SRW stepsister in even more dramatic fashion to reach the sectional ball.

     After falling behind by 15 points early in the second half, the Chieftains closed the game on a 34–6 to stun Six Rivers West champion Shullsburg 53–40.

     “The girls just don’t want to be done playing right now and that’s a pretty fun feeling when they don’t want the season to end,” said Potosi head coach Brad Bierman. “The girls are really enjoying each other. What happened this past week is a byproduct of buying in and believing in each other. It really says a lot about how far the girls have come. I don’t think a month ago that we could have emotionally done this. But we felt all season we had a good basketball team with some talented players.”

     The Chieftains advance to sectionals for the first time since 2012. Potosi will now face undefeated Barneveld (25–0), the two-time defending Division 5 state champs and the top-ranked team in the division, Thursday at Mineral Point at 7 p.m.

     The Eagles are led by Nebraska recruit Hannah Whitish, who averages more than 22 points per game.

     “The message is the same,” said Bierman. “Everybody knows how talented Barneveld is and Hannah Whitish is the best basketball player in the state, but this isn’t a series, best of five or best of seven. It’s high school basketball and it’s one game and the winner moves on. I think if we can play our best basketball we can compete with them. We’ve got nothing to lose. I know that’s really cliche, but right now we are just having fun and taking it a day at a time.”

     Friday night, Potosi used a box-and-one defense to hold senior guard Bridgett Myers — the reigning Six Rivers West Player of the Year — to just four points, while double-teaming senior forward Andrea Patterson anytime she touched the ball in the paint.

     Patterson finished with 13 points, but Potosi made all 13 hard earned.

     Senior Maddie Hawes scored nine of her game-high 20 in an 11–0 first-half run that tied the game at 13 and wiped out Ridge’s fast start.

     Hawes tied the game at 32  on a layup with 11 minutes to play, then sophomore Abby Kaiser scored on a breakaway layup to give Potosi the lead.

     Junior Brook McKillip banked in a three on the next posession and another Hawes layup made it 39–32 with eight minutes to play.

     Kaiser made four straight free throws, then added a three-point play to push the lead to 46–36 with three minutes left.
Kaiser finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

     Potosi used the same box-and-one defense Saturday night to hold Shullsburg standout guard Hattie Rennert to just two points and limit 6-foot-1 sophomore center Brianna Leahy to just eight points.

     But the Miners countered by making 8 of 13 three-point attempts in the first-half to build a 31–19 lead.

     McKailah Strang buried a three on the first posession of the second half to make it 34–19, but the Miners missed their final 13 attempts from behind the arc.

     Meanwhile the Potosi offense came alive. Hawes and Bloyer hit back-to-back threes midway through the half to tie the game and a second triple by Bloyer gave the Potosi the lead for good.

     Kaiser started scoring on drives to the basket to extend the lead. She finished with 21 points and six boards.

     Then Bloyer got loose for a pair of breakaway layups against Shullsburg’s press to put the game away. Bloyer finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Hawes had 12 points and nine assists.

WIAA Division 5 Regional Quarterfinal
Potosi 78, De Soto 45
(from Tuesday, Feb. 23 @ Potosi)
11) De Soto       24    21     —  45
6) Potosi            37    41     —  78
De Soto (10–11) — Riley Anderson 2, Monica Crowley 1, Daraya Boardman 1, Lauren Voelker 2, Julia Wopat 10, Cassidy Trussoni 4, Rachel Veglahn 18, Victoria Chapes 7. Totals – 18 5-10 45.
Potosi (16–7) — Abby Kaiser 30, Maddie Hawes 11, Taylor Bloyer 15, Jadyn Noonan 7, Brooke McKillip 6, Sophie Langkamp 4, Toni Pluemer 2, Hannah Udelhoven 3. Totals — 33 8-13 78.
3-point goals — D: 4 (Veglahn 4); P: 4 (Hawes 1, McKillip 1, Noonan 1, Udelhoven 1). Team fouls — D: 16, P: 16.
WIAA Division 5 Regional Semifinal
Potosi 49, River Ridge 42
(from Friday, Feb. 26 @ Patch Grove)
6) Potosi            22    27     —  49
3) River Ridge   20    22     —  42
Potosi (17–7) — Abby Kaiser 15, Maddie Hawes 20, Taylor Bloyer 6, Brooke McKillip 6, Sophie Langkamp 2. Totals — 17 12-20 49.
River Ridge (18–5) — Taylor Langmeier 4, Bridgette Myers 4, Nicole Sturmer 4, Maria Breuer 2, Sierra Schier 15, Amber Patterson 13. Totals – 14 10-20 49.
3-point goals — P: 5 (Hawes 3, McKillip 1); RR: 4 (Schier 4). Team fouls — P: 18, RR: 17. Fouled out — none.

WIAA Division 5 Regional Final
Potosi 53, Shullsburg 40
(from Saturday, Feb. 27 @ Shullsburg)
6) Potosi            19    34     —  53
2) Shullsburg     31     9     —  40
Potosi (18–7) — Abby Kaiser 19, Maddie Hawes 12, Taylor Bloyer 12, Brooke McKillip 7, Sophie Langkamp 3. Totals — 21-45 8-16 53.
Shullsburg (21–4) — Kindle Cook 3, McKailah Strang 9, Hattie Rennert 3, Paige Hauser 4, Nicole Teutschmann 12, Brianna Leahy 8, Cora Holland 1. Totals – 13 5-6 40.
3-point goals — P: 4 (Bloyer 2, Hawes 1, Kaiser 1); S: 6 (Teutschmann 4, Strang 3, Cook 1, Rennert 1). Team fouls — P: 10, S: 19. Fouled out — none.