A sensational conference and regional championship season came to end last Thursday night in uncharacteristic fashion for the offensive-minded Potosi girls’ basketball team.
The Chieftains, who entered the game averaging 60.8 points per contest, simply couldn’t find their range or rhythm.
On a night where Potosi struggled mightily from the field making just 13 baskets, undefeated Seneca was able to overcome foul trouble to its star senior Kalli Boland and survive last Thursday’s WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal at Richland Center High School, 57-46.
The Indians improved to 25-0 and two days later earned a berth in the D5 state tournament with a 50-41 victory of Chippewa Falls McDonell Central (20-7). The Chieftains finished their season with a record of 19-7.
“We just didn’t shoot very well and they made shots,” explained Potosi head coach Brad Bierman. “We never found a rhythm offensively. I credit them they were very physical and they made things tough for us. When you are playing catch up all night, and you’re not making shots that’s a hard thing to overcome.”
Potosi actually held a 12-11 lead at the end of a back-and-forth first quarter, but the 5-10 Boland scored the first basket of the second period and Seneca never trailed again.
The Chieftains went cold and the Indians closed the half on a 14-8 to take a 25-20 lead into halftime. Boland finished the half with nine points and fellow Seneca standout junior guard Logan Lessard added eight on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup.
Despite a strong start from Seneca’s stars and being outrebounded 20-10 in the first half Potosi trailed by just five at the break.
But the Indians took complete control of the game with an 8-2 run to open the third quarter.
Boland scored a layup and a free throw in the run, Heather Wall swished a triple (her only basket of the game), and surprise standout Sawyer Roberts contributed two of her eight second half points, as Seneca built a 33-22 lead.
Seneca’s momentum was quickly halted when Boland picked up her third foul early in the period and Potosi made a run.
Senior Ashley Flesch stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws three minutes into the third quarter, and fellow senior Kylie Meier made two from the line.
After another Lessard triple, Meier added two more free throws and with just under a minute left in the third quarter junior Tiffany Langmeier grabbed Potosi’s first offensive rebound of the game and converted a pair of free throws after being fouled, pulling the Chieftains within six at 36-30.
Potosi made just one shot from the field in the third quarter, but solid free throw shooting kept it close. But other than Meier’s brilliant 11-of-12 performance from the line on the night the rest of the Chieftains were a pedestrian 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from the charity stripe.
Roberts countered Langmeier’s free throws with a 10-foot jumper, and after Potosi’s Abby Ames missed a pair from the free throw line, Seneca freshman Taylor Redman drilled a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the quarter and the lead was once again 11 points.
Boland returned to the game and quickly picked up her fourth foul, but Potosi couldn’t capitalize as both Ames and Flesch each picked up their fourth fouls in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter as well.
Lessard buried her fourth triple of the game on a feed from Roberts to make it 46-34 with 6:00 to play.
A pair of free throws by Potosi’s Haley Flesch made it 52-41 with just over two minutes to play, but Boland re-entered the game and scored on a short hook shot, and Roberts fouled with a pair of free throws to push the lead to 56-41.
An Ames 3-pointer and an Ashley Flesch layup proved too little, too late for Potosi.
Boland finished with a game-high 15 points, while Lessard and Roberts each added 14 for the winners.
“We did a reasonably good job on Boland, but she is a tough match-up,” added Bierman. “We decided to focus on her and Lessard and Redman, and Roberts really stepped up for them. Boland and Lessard did what they have been doing all year, but Roberts scored 14 points, well over her six points a game average. She was the difference in the game for them.”
Meier finished with a co-team-high 13 points in her final game for Potosi. Ames also scored 13 and senior Ashley Flesch added eight.
“At this point in the season there isn’t anything you can say to console them,” added Bierman. “The seniors were devastated. They didn’t want the season to end, nobody did. To be that close to a potential state berth and come up short is hard. But like I told them Thursday night, I am extremely proud of them. We were down to the final 16 in the state in Division 5.
“We’ve got a lot to be proud of. There are only four trophies you can win each year and we won two of them (conference and regional champions). We had a successful season. Maybe not now, but in a few weeks, once they have a chance to look back on it they will be proud of what we accomplished.”
WIAA Division 5 Sectional Semifinal
No. 1 Seneca 57, No. 3 Potosi 46,
(from Thursday, March 15 @ Rich. Center)
Seneca 11 14 16 16 - 57
Potosi 12 8 10 16 - 46
Seneca (25-0) - Lessard 14, Redman 7, Payne 4, Roberts 14, Boland 15, Wall 3. Totals - 21 9-19 57.
Potosi (19-7) - Ashley Flesch 8, Haley Flesch 2, Meleah Mumm 6, Kylie Meier 13, Abby Ames 13, Tiffany Langmeier 4. Totals - 13 19-29 46.
3-point goals - S: 6 (Lessard 4, Redman 1, Wall 1); P: 1 (Ames 1). Team fouls - S: 16; P: 16. Fouled out - none.