HIGHLAND — Highland made Shullsburg work hard to secure their share of the 2017-18 Six Rivers West championship title. But, after a bit of a slow start, the Lady Miners put it together and pulled away for their fourth consecutive conference crown by besting the host Cardinals, 70-47, in their season finale at HHS on Thursday, Feb. 15.
“I am very proud of this group. Being apart of four consecutive conference championships is only something one other team in the history of the conference has accomplished,” said Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell, noting Potosi owns the conference record with six straight titles. “These ladies have been through a lot of adversity to accomplish this goal. They have made a commitment to each other and to our program. I could not be more proud of them.”
Shullsburg (17-5 overall, 10-2 SRW) trailed by six with just over five minutes remaining in the first half until closing the stanza on a 10-2 run to grab a 25-23 halftime lead.
“We started very uninterested. I believe some of our players thought that Highland was just going to lay down for us. I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Once we realized that they were there to compete, we were able to dial up our energy and operate effectively on both ends of the floor,” admitted Russell.
The Miners used a 15-0 scoring burst early in the second half to open up a comfortable 40-25 advantage. The Cardinals (5-16, 2-10) never got closer than 11 the rest of the way as the Miners kept pouring it on, scoring 45 points in the second half en route to a 23-point victory.
Senior center Brianna Leahy had a memorable night while leading the Miners to their fourth SRW title in a row. Leahy poured 21 points to lead all scorers in the game and pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds to send her over the 1,000-rebound mark for her career. It was her 15th double-double of the season– she also has posted three triple-doubles this year– and she added seven blocked shots to finish the regular season with a state-leading 126 blocks.
“Our program doesn’t focus on individual accomplishments much, but this is one I certainly want to highlight. There are very few people in the state of Wisconsin who have achieved 1,000 rebounds. This is a true testament to Brianna’s hard work and dedication to getting better. It is even more telling that the vast majority of her rebounds were on the defensive end as she has allowed us to do things defensively we have never been able to do before,” Russell remarked.
Freshman Layla Alt tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Miners, while fellow frosh Kayla Klotz matched her career-high with nine points to go along with four blocks and four rebounds.
Senior Faith Ubersox chipped in with eight points, five boards and three steals in the victory.
Junior point guard Maddie Drury scored 12 points and senior forward Kylie Esser added 11 to lead Highland.
After winning the West outright the past three seasons– the previous two seasons alone as Shullsburg and the year before as part of the Benton/Shullsburg co-op, Coach Russell’s squad was forced to share this year’s title with Potosi (16-4, 10-2) after the Lady Chieftains routed Cassville, 81-22, in their finale on Thursday night.
The WIAA Division 5 tournament began on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Top-seeded Shullsburg opened against #16-seed Cassville (3-18) in a regional quarterfinal game at home on Tuesday. The results of the game were not known at press time.
With a win on Tuesday night, the Lady Miners will host either #8-seed Belmont (9-13) or #9-seed Wauzeka-Steuben (14-8) in a regional semifinal game on Friday, Feb 23, starting at 7 p.m. With another victory, the Miners will also host the regional championship game on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m.
“I am optimistic about where we are as team entering the tournament. We have played very well offensively the past two weeks. If we can get back to playing the great defensive brand of basketball that we played earlier in the season that could become a combination that would allow us a deep run,” said Russell.
Shullsburg…… 25 45 – 70
Highland……… 23 24 – 47
Shullsburg – Faith Ubersox 8, Gentry Spore 3, Anna Wiegel 2, Kayla Klotz 9, Madison Russell 5, Calli Jerry 1, Nicole Teutschmann 3, Brianna Leahy 21, Layla Alt 13. Totals – 27 12-23 70.
Highland – Mo. Drury 3, Mueller 4, M. Kosharek 5, C. Kosharek 5, Esser 11, Drury 12, Hennessey 4, Welsh 3. Totals – 15 15-22 47.
3-point goals– S 3 (Spore 1, Klotz 1, Teutschmann 1), H 2 (Esser 1, Welsh 1). Total fouls– S 16, H 16. Fouled out– none.