CUBA CITY — Shullsburg’s defense led the way to the title at the 2017 Cuba City Christmas Classic girls’ basketball tournament.
The Lady Miners (8-1 overall) limited the host Cubans to only 14 second-half points and rallied from behind to post a 41-37 victory in the championship game at Cuba City High School on Thursday, Dec. 28.
“I am very proud of these ladies for battling to get this win. This was a win most people outside of our team didn’t give us any shot to earn,” said Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell. “I thought that our defensive execution was phenomenal after the first five minutes. Once all of our players got on the same page regarding our game plan, it worked nearly to perfection. Also, it was key for our guards to settle into the game.”
The Cubans (8-2) charged out to an early 9-0 lead, but the Miners came storming back with a 16-7 run– including four straight baskets by senior center Brianna Leahy– to even the score up at 16 all.
Cuba City regained the lead late in the half on a basket by sophomore Sophia Sander and took a slim 23-22 advantage into the intermission.
Junior Elizabeth Misky extended the Cubans lead to five with a 3-pointer early in the second half, however they could not shake the Miners, who fought back to tie the game at 33 all before taking the lead for good on a 3-pointer by senior Nicole Teutschmann with just under five minutes remaining.
After Cuba City got back within one, Leahy extended the Miners’ lead to 38-35 with less than a minute to play and then preserved that lead by blocking a game-tying 3-point attempt by the Cubans.
“Our defensive system starts with Brianna on the back end. She allows us to play differently than we have in the past. Our communication amongst the other players has really improved and has allowed our defense to evolve. That evolution made it very difficult on Cuba City, especially in the second half,” explained Russell.
Shullsburg knocked down three clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the victory and extend their winning streak to six games.
Leahy finished with a game-high 19 points and added 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Miners. Senior Faith Ubersox tallied six points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while freshmen Layla Alt and Madison Russell chipped in with five points apiece for Shullsburg.
Misky led the Cubans with 12 points. Senior Megan Hartl netted 10 points, while junior Courtney Busch and sophomore Kiera Holzemer added five points each for the hosts.
Shullsburg advanced to the finals by defeating Shullsburg native Dave Wiegel’s River Ridge/Scales Mound squad, 33-28, in a semifinal clash at CCHS on Wednesday, Dec. 27.
The Miners’ defense was stout from the opening tip, holding the Wildcats (9-9) scoreless for nearly 13 minutes to start the game. Unfortunately, Shullsburg could only manage eight points themselves before the Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard.
The Miners went into the half sporting a 12-7 lead. The Wildcats’ offense picked up the pace in the second half and rallied to take a 16-15 lead on a basket by Maddi Frey with 12:25 remaining.
The teams swapped the lead five more times over the next seven and a half minutes until a layup by Alt put the Miners back into the lead to stay at 25-24 with 4:56 to play.
Alt went 4-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch, while Ubersox and Russell added free throws to extend the advantage to 31-24 with under a minute to go and then a late basket by Leahy sealed the victory.
“I thought that our defensive effort was tremendous against RR/SM; but, as been the case for much of the year, our offense is a work in progress. We have to have some players step-up to fill our offensive voids if we want to continue to build on our early success,” said Coach Russell.
“Our defense was stifling against RR/SM. We opened up with a huge scoreless streak and backed it up the remainder of the game. Give credit to RR/SM for battling us on defense as they certainly pushed us hard.”
Leahy had another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds to go along with seven blocks, two assists and two steals. Alt finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ubersox added four points, five boards and two steals.
Russell had six rebounds and three assists, and senior Kindle Cook pulled down five rebounds.
Frey scored nine points and Trinity Law netted eight for the Wildcats, who fell to New Glarus, 71-43, in the consolation game on Thursday.
Shullsburg has Six Rivers West games at home against Belmont on Thursday, Jan. 4, and against Highland on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
The Miners will also have a girls and boys doubleheader at Black Hawk on Saturday, Jan. 6. The girls’ junior varsity game will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the boys’ JV game at 3 p.m., the girls’ varsity game at 5 p.m. and the boys’ varsity game at 7 p.m.
“We certainly would like to win some games by wider margins but the experience we have had the past three weeks, including this game, should prove invaluable as the season continues to unfold,” added Russell.
Shullsburg……….. 22 19 – 41
Cuba City………… 23 14 – 37
Shullsburg – Faith Ubersox 6, Madison Russell 5, Calli Jerry 3, Nicole Teutschmann 3, Brianna Leahy 19, Layla Alt 5. Totals – 16 6-15 41.
Cuba City – Elizabeth Misky 12, Megan Hartl 10, Parker Kopp 3, Courtney Busch 5, Kiera Holzemer 5, Sophia Sander 2. Totals – 12 8-16 37.
3-point goals– S 3 (Ubersox 1, Jerry 1, Teutschmann 1), CC 5 (Misky 2, Hartl 1, Busch 1, Holzemer 1). Total fouls– S 20, CC 18. Fouled out– none.
Shullsburg……. 12 21 – 33
RR/SM…………. 7 21 – 28
Shullsburg – Faith Ubersox 4, Kayla Klotz 2, Madison Russell 1, Nicole Teutschmann 3, Brianna Leahy 12, Layla Alt 11. Totals – 10 12-27 33.
RR/SM– Haas 4, Frey 9, Law 8, Miller 4, Conklin 3. Totals – 10 5-7 28.
3-point goals– S 1 (Teutschmann 1), RR/SM 3 (Haas 1, Frey 1, Conklin 1). Total fouls– S na, RR/SM na. Fouled out– RR/SM: Miller.