SENECA – The #3-seeded Seneca Indians went 18-for-24 from the foul line in the second half to throw down the #6-seeded Belmont Braves, 59-46, in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal contest at SHS on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“They shot too many free throws in the second half, and we didn’t get enough. The free throws allowed them to get in a rhythm and make more shots,” said Belmont head coach Alan Seabrooke.
The Lady Braves (12-12 overall) held a 24-22 lead over the host Indians (21-3) at the halftime break, and then scored the first four points of the second half to open up a six-point advantage before Seneca swung the momentum in their favor and the Braves could never get it back.
“To be completely honest, it seemed like the fouls changed. We definitely fouled them several times, but Seneca was being more aggressive and making more contact, and weren’t called for it,” explained Seabrooke. “The girls were almost stunned with how the way the game turned. We just couldn’t grab the momentum back, and the girls were devastated after the game. I have never seen a locker room like that before in my coaching career. The loss hurt, and was a tough way to end the season.”
Alivia Salinas scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the second half, including a 7-for-8 shooting performance from the free throw stripe, to guide the Seneca comeback. Becky Trautsch added 11 of her 16 points in the second half as the Indians outscored the Braves, 37-22, in that half to advance to the regional championship game.
Briana Ernst netted nine of her team-high 15 points in the first half to lead Belmont out to their halftime lead. Caitlyn Gilbertson tallied 13 points for the Braves, while Abby Althaus scored all eight of her points, including both of the team’s 3-pointers, in the second half to try and keep Belmont close.
“We played really well in the first half and the first few minutes of the second half. The girls bought in to playing solid man-to-man defense. Seneca really struggled to score, and we forced them to get out of their press because we were scoring against it,” noted Seabrooke.
Playing in their final prep basketball game at Belmont were seniors Trinity Rucker, Maddie Rand, Caitlyn Gilbertson and Paige Nolan.
“Each one of our seniors brought something different to the table. I want to thank them for all their hard work in practice and games. Their efforts and contributions will be missed,” Seabrooke commented. “Maddie and Trinity were both role players that could influence a game with their defense. Paige took over our point guard duties and did a great job handling the ball under pressure. Her shooting improved as the year went on as well. Caitlyn was our leader in many ways. She led us in scoring, blocks, and steals, and was second in rebounding and assists.”
The game was delayed a day due to Friday’s wintry weather, pushing the regional championship game to Monday evening. The Indians’ season came to an end with a 55-36 loss to #2-seed Riverdale (21-4) in Muscoda on Monday night.
At Belmont, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Briana Ernst scored four of her team-high 22 points in overtime to lift the Lady Braves over the #10-seeded De Soto Pirates, 60-55, in a WIAA D5 regional quarterfinal game.
“This game was closer than we would have liked it to be. We had a few too many turnovers, and that allowed the game to stay close,” admitted Coach Alan Seabrooke.
De Soto’s Rachel Veglahn tied the game at 52 all by sinking a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation, but Ernst got the lead right for the Braves at the start of the extra session and Paige Nolan and Elsie de Haan each went 2-for-2 from the line in OT to seal the victory.
“We were in close games all year. We went 8-2 in games decided by six points or less. We definitely know how to finish the close games, and that was a factor in winning the game,” Seabrooke said.
Ernst scored eight of her 22 points at the foul line for the Braves, who shot 19-for-24 at the stripe (79 percent) on the night.
“Briana had a great game for us. She attacked De Soto all night and got to the free throw line for 10 free throws. As a team, we shot a great percentage from the free throw line,” added Seabrooke.
Nolan and Kassandra Palzkill chipped in with 10 points apiece for Belmont, while Gilbertson netted nine points in the win.
Veglahn scored 19 of her game-high 26 points in the second half and overtime to carry the Pirates (8-15).
WIAA D5 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Belmont………….. 24 22 – 46
Seneca…………… 22 37 – 59
Belmont – Abby Althaus 8, Nicole Knebel 3, Kassandra Palzkill 4, Briana Ernst 15, Elsie de Haan 2, Caitlyn Gilbertson 13, Paige Nolan 1. Totals – 18 8-16 46.
Seneca – Salinas 17, Garfoot 9, Wall 4, Trautsch 16, Clark 2, Greene 9, Konichek 2. Totals – 17 19-27 59.
3-point goals– B 2 (Althaus 2), S 6 (Salinas 2, Garfoot 1, Trautsch 3). Total fouls– B 24, S 17. Fouled out– None.
WIAA D5 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
De Soto…………….. 18 34 3 – 55
Belmont……………. 22 30 8 – 60
De Soto – Chapes 5, Voelker 8, Brosinski 9, Wopat 7, Strasser, Veglahn 26. Totals – 21 10-17 55.
Belmont – Abby Althaus 4, Trinity Rucker 1, Nicole Knebel 2, Kassandra Palzkill 10, Briana Ernst 22, Elsie de Haan 2, Caitlyn Gilbertson 9, Paige Nolan 10. Totals – 20 19-24 60.
3-point goals– D 3 (Veglahn 3), B 1 (Nolan 1). Total fouls– D 18, B 18. Fouled out– D: Voelker.