BENTON – Junior center Brianna Leahy scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to rally the #5-ranked Shullsburg Miners past host Benton, 43-40, and secure sole possession of their second straight Six Rivers West girls’ basketball title on Senior Night at BHS on Friday, Feb. 10.
The Miners (16-3 overall, 11-0 SRW) claimed the title outright after rallying from eight points down in the final 10:20 to nip the second-place Lady Zephyrs (13-7, 8-3) on Benton’s Senior Night.
“It was a special evening. It was a pleasure for us to be here on Benton’s Senior Night given what we have been through with those girls,” said Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell, who led the seniors on both teams to the Six Rivers West crown in the final year of the Ben-Shulls co-op in 2013-14.
“I am very proud of these girls for winning their second outright conference championship and third in a row for the program). This year they came into the season with all of the expectations on them unlike last year and they took everyone’s best shot. I couldn’t be happier for these ladies.”
Benton set out to slow down the Miners’ offensive stars and they did that for much of the night as defense ruled both ends of the court. An early 12-0 run thrust the Zephyrs into the lead, and they went into the intermission sporting a 16-14 lead after junior Emma Lawrence drove coast-to-coast with a rebound and sank a layup at the final horn to put the hosts ahead.
“The defense was good from both teams. It was a grown-persons challenge out there tonight. You had to be big and you had to be strong to get a rebound and finish at the basket. I was proud of both groups, but I was happy that we pulled it out in the end,” noted Russell.
Senior Ally Jansen scored seven points and Lawrence added five during a 12-6 run early in the second half that put the Zephyrs up 30-22.
Leahy’s first of two second-half 3-pointers pulled the Miners back within 30-29 with 8:44 to play, and then she poured in 11 straight points for Shullsburg to lift them into a 41-40 lead with 1:21 left on the clock. The junior scored 16 of the Miners’ final 21 points.
“Brianna stepped up big in the second half. To be able to step out and hit those 3s at her size was huge for us tonight,” Russell replied.
Benton senior Kayla Dougherty had two chances to put her team ahead down the stretch, but she missed the front end of a bonus chance with :53.8 remaining and then had her go-ahead lay-up roll off the rim with under two seconds to play.
Senior Hattie Rennert secured the rebound and was fouled with :01.9 to play. She sank both free throws to secure the 43-40 decision.
“Hattie leads us in all facets. She pulled us through with her offense and defense tonight,” said Russell.
Leahy tallied 22 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Miners, while Rennert finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. Senior guard Cora Holland dished out six assists and senior guard McKailah Strang pulled down six boards for Shullsburg.
Lawrence led the Zephyrs with 17 points, 19 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Jansen scored nine points and senior Lily Carver added seven points, while Dougherty registered seven rebounds and three assists.
At Shullsburg, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, McKailah Strang sank five of the Miners’ 11 3-point baskets on her way to a career-high 19 points as the Miners shot down the visiting Cassville Comets, 61-32, in a SRW contest.
Strang capped her big night by adding five rebounds, four assists and two steals for the hosts. Hattie Rennert chipped in with 13 points, eight steals and five boards, while Brianna Leahy contributed 12 points, eight blocks and six rebounds.
Kennedy McMillian guided the Comets (8-13, 3-8) with 11 points.
At Wauzeka, on Monday, Feb. 13, the Lady Miners ran their winning streak to eight games after stinging the host Hornets, 64-38, in a non-conference clash.
Brianna Leahy matched her career-high by pouring in a game-high 30 points for the Miners. She also pulled down 15 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season and she added six blocks and four assists.
Hattie Rennert provided 14 points, seven assists and three steals in the contest, while Cora Holland scored seven points for the Miners.
Shullsburg closes the regular season with their SRW finale at River Ridge (14-5, 6-4) on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The WIAA Division 5 tournament will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The Miners received the #1-seed and will hosts #16-seed Southwestern (1-19) in a regional quarterfinal game at home on Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m.
The regional semifinal game will be held on Friday, Feb 24, at 7 p.m. The regional final is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, also at 7 p.m.
Shullsburg………… 14 29 – 43
Benton……………... 16 24 – 40
Shullsburg – Kindle Cook 3, Hattie Rennert 14, Nicole Teutschmann 2, Brianna Leahy 22, Cora Holland 2. Totals – 15 8-13 43.
Benton – Ally Jansen 9, Brianna Mellenberger 2, Emma Lawrence 17, Paige Murphy 1, Lily Carver 9, Kayla Dougherty 2. Totals – 15 8-18 40.
3-point goals– S 5 (Cook 1, Rennert 2, Leahy 2), B 2 (Jansen 1, Carver 1). Total fouls– S 15, B 14. Fouled out– B: Lawrence.
Cassville…………. 15 17 – 32
Shullsburg………. 32 29 – 61
Cassville – Nix 5, Iffert 4, Reynolds 4, Vogt 2, McMillan 11, Johll 6. Totals –15 2-6 32.
Shullsburg – Faith Ubersox 1, McKailah Strang 19, Hattie Rennert 13, Abby Pahnke 3, Nicole Teutschmann 9, Brianna Leahy 12, Cora Holland 4. Totals – 22 6-10 61.
3-point goals– C 0, S 11 (Strang 5, Rennert 1, Pahnke 1, Teutschmann 3, Leahy 1). Total fouls– C 11, S 11. Fouled out– None.
Shullsburg……………. 30 34 – 64
Wauzeka/Steuben…… 13 25 – 38
Shullsburg – McKailah Strang 5, Hattie Rennert 14, Abby Pahnke 4, Nicole Teutschmann 1, Brianna Leahy 30, Cora Holland 7, Megan Greenfield 3. Totals – 23 10-21 0.
W/S – No scores available. Totals – na.
3-point goals– S 8 (Strang 1, Rennert 4, Pahnke 1, Leahy 1, Holland 1),WS na. Total fouls– S 13, WS na. Fouled out– None.