RICHLAND CENTER – Shullsburg’s shot at their school’s first state tournament appearance in 21 years fell just off the mark as the #5-ranked Lady Miners shot an icy 18-for-67 from the field in a 63-49 loss to #4-ranked Bangor in a WIAA Division 5 sectional final girls’ basketball game at Richland Center High School on Saturday, March 4.
The Cardinals (24-3 overall) got a game-high 27 points from 6’3” junior forward Emma Wittmershaus, a UW-Milwaukee recruit, and another 13 points from junior forward Jaclynn Freit on the way to capturing the sectional crown and earning Bangor’s first state tournament berth since 1997.
“I am very proud of our ladies for coming out and going toe-to-toe with them from the opening tip. We battled throughout the game. Unfortunately, they were able to knock down more shots than we were,” commented Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell.
The teams traded the lead nine times in the first half until a late push by Bangor sent them into the intermission sporting a five-point advantage. Shullsburg (22-4) took its last lead of the game at 22-20 on a 3-pointer by senior guard McKailah Strang with just over four minutes remaining in the half, but the Cardinals scored eight of the final nine points of the half to go ahead 28-23.
A pair of treys by Strang and fellow senior Hattie Rennert brought the Miners back within a point at 30-29 early in the second half, however Bangor charged back with 14 unanswered points to build up a 44-29 cushion with 10:11 to play.
“I felt that we allowed them to have more success on the offensive boards in the second half than we did in the first half. We were very cold shooting for about a six to seven-minute stretch in the second half, which allowed them to pull away. Bangor is a great team and just flat out made more shots than we did,” admitted Russell, noting the team connected on just nine of their final 31 shots.
Shullsburg got as close as 58-49 with 1:22 to play, but the Cardinals netted the game’s final five points to secure a state berth.
“I realize that these players ended up short of their ultimate goal by one game, but they have been great players, teammates and students. I couldn’t be more proud of the way that they represented our program, school and community. They will be tremendous examples of role models for your younger players to emulate in the future,” stated Russell.
Strang dropped in four 3s en route to a team-high 14 points in her final game for the Lady Miners. Rennert added 12 points and junior center Brianna Leahy scored 11 for Shullsburg.
Playing in their final prep basketball game at Shullsburg were seniors McKailah Strang, Hattie Rennert, Abby Pahnke and Cora Holland.
“I could not be more proud of this group. They were a group that was dismissed last year with the breakup of the (Ben-Shulls) co-op. We were not supposed to be very good, but they truly answered the bell. Having been a part of back-to-back conference championships (and three straight for Hattie), they leave as the program’s leaders in winning percentage (84+ percent). That is a true testament to their work ethic and character. I demanded a lot of them over the past number of years and they did everything I asked and more,” Russell said.
At Mineral Point, on Thursday, March 2, the top-seeded Lady Miners got themselves with a game of the school’s first state appearance since 1996 by defeating the #2-seeded Riverdale Chieftains, 43-34, in a hard-fought sectional semifinal affair.
Rennert (20 points) and Leahy (19) took care of the bulk of the scoring for Shullsburg, while all the Miners joined together to put a smothering defensive blanket down upon the Chieftains (20-5).
Rennert and Leahy combined to score the Miners’ first 33 points and they finished with 39 of the team’s 43 points.
The Miners used an 8-0 run during the final five minutes, 36 seconds of the first half to pull ahead to stay at 18-13 at the intermission.
Riverdale cut the gap to 26-25 on a pair of free throws by Macy Mau with 8:52 remaining, but Rennert hit a layup and Leahy connected on three free throws and a basket to push the lead back to 33-28 with 4:29 to play.
McKailah Strang became the first Miner not named Rennert or Leahy to score in the game when she hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2:26 remaining to give Shullsburg a 36-28 cushion, then Rennert sank six of her eight free throw attempts in the final 93 seconds to seal the victory.
Shullburg went 15-for-24 from the foul line on the night, including a 13-for-21 effort in the second half, to sink Riverdale.
Leahy grabbed 15 rebounds to go with her 19 points for her 18th double-double this season and she also registered five blocks.
Rennert and Cora Holland pulled down six boards apiece, while Strang dished out four assists and junior Kindle Cook added three assists. Junior Faith Ubersox led the Miners with two steals.
“It was a difficult battle. We came out of the gate very nervous and had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes. However, our defense was there the entire night and allowed us to overcome our early offensive struggles,” said Coach Russell.
Mau led the Chieftains with 12 points.
WIAA D5 SECTIONAL FINAL
Bangor…………… 28 35 – 63
Shullsburg………. 23 26 – 49
Bangor – Hundt 7, Lockington 5, Fortier 6, Nicolai 3, Wittmershaus 27, Freit 13, Jepson 2. Totals – 22 12-22 63.
Shullsburg – Kindle Cook 5, McKailah Strang 14, Hattie Rennert 12, Nicole Teutschmann 3, Brianna Leahy 11, Cora Holland 4. Totals – 18 5-8 49.
3-point goals– B 7 (Wittmershaus 4, Freit 3), S 8 (Cook 1, Strang 4, Rennert 2, Teutschmann 1). Total fouls– B 12, S 18. Fouled out– S: Strang.
WIAA D5 SECTIONAL SEMIFINAL
Riverdale………… 13 21 – 34
Shullsburg………. 18 25 – 43
Riverdale – Mau 12, Couey 4, M. Klebesadel 9, Noble 7, Johnson 2. Totals – 13 6-13 34.
Shullsburg – McKailah Strang 3, Hattie Rennert 20, Nicole Teutschmann 1, Brianna Leahy 19. Totals – 12 15-24 43.
3-point goals– R 2 (Mau 2), S 4 (Strang 1, Rennert 3). Total fouls– R 20, S 12. Fouled out– R: Arellano.