Black Hawk presses way into title game
ASHWAUBENON — Sticking to a game plan that won them 27 straight games on the way to the state tournament, the Black Hawk Warriors strolled into Saturday’s WIAA Division 5 State Championship Game by flying by the Newman Catholic Cardinals, 57-31, in a D5 State Semifinal contest played at the Resch Center on Friday, March 9.
The Lady Warriors (28-0) unleashing their relentless run-and-jump full-court pressure on the Cardinals (21-7) from the opening tip, forcing eight turnovers over the first seven-plus minutes of the game while jumping out to an early 14-0 advantage.
“Our press is our main factor. We try to speed the other team up. Yeah, we look for steals, but we try to get them tired so they make bad decisions later on in the game,” said sophomore Natalie Leuzinger.
Leuzinger reeled off the first eight points for Black Hawk, and sophomore Hannah Butler and freshmen Bailey Butler and Kaylee Marty each added layups to extend the lead to 14-0 with 11:18 to play in the first half.
“We were pretty proud of the way we executed overall. Overall we stuck to the game plan. These guys are pretty good at making what we talk about come to fruition,” said Black Hawk head coach Michael Flanagan. “One of the things I was proudest of with the team was that we had to approach a defense we had not seen too often, and we did a really good job of executing the way we wanted to attack that.”
Newman, who had defeated Black Hawk in their previous two state appearances in 2010 and 2011, trimmed the Warriors’ lead down to 16-7 on a 3-pointer by Signe Fronek midway through the opening half. However, the Warriors closed the half on a 10-2 scoring run to build up a comfortable 26-9 lead at the intermission.
“These kids have worked so hard. They are models of dedication and commitment. Just a meticulous attention to detail, that’s why they’re able to do the things that they do,” remarked Flanagan.
Black Hawk finished the first half forcing 14 Newman turnovers, while committing just three turnovers of their own. The Warriors also pulled down eight offensive rebounds, which led to eight second-chance points.
“I think that there are a lot of basketball coaches who would be pretty proud to have a team who valued the ball the way that these kids do,” Flanagan commented.
The Cardinals started the second half off with a trey by Julia Seidel to get within 14, but the Warriors answered back with an 18-6 scoring run to push their lead out to 44-18 with 9:27 remaining.
Newman never got closer than 21 the rest of the way; and with the game well in hand, the Warriors were able to go deep into their bench and get all 13 of their players time on the court during the state tournament.
B. Butler scored 13 of her game-high 17 points in the second half and she added six rebounds, four steals and two assists to aid in the victory.
“We tried to work it inside and then get our kick-outs. Once we drive and get open shots, we can hit those,” said Bailey Butler about the team’s offensive attack in the second half.
Leuzinger tallied 14 points, six rebounds, four steals, an assist and a blocked shot for the Warriors, who finished the game forcing 26 Cardinal turnovers.
“This feeling is awesome. Ever since I picked up a basketball I wanted to make it to a state championship,” said Leuzinger, who ended last season with a hip injury suffered in Black Hawk’s regional semifinal victory over Argyle.
Without Leuzinger, the Warriors lost in overtime to Fall River, 67-62, in the regional final game the next night to finish 21-1 on the season. A year later, the Warriors made it all the way to the final day of the basketball season.
“More than using (last season) to motivate us, we used it as a reminder that a season is something that has extreme fragility. It’s something that can fall apart at any point,” said Flanagan. “I believe that in the end it made us stronger because other kids had to step up. Resiliency is something these kids are built from. It’s in their fiber.”
H. Butler registered nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals, while senior Hannah Herbst scored eight points and pulled down five rebounds for the Warriors.
Seidel led Newman Catholic with 11 points and Fronek added ninefor the Cardinals.
In the other D5 semifinal game, Bangor held off Clayton, 57-54, to advance to the state final game for the first time since 1997.
WIAA DIVISION 5 STATE SEMIFINAL
Newman Catholic….. 9 22 – 31
Black Hawk…………. 26 31 – 57
Newman– Ganski 4, Fronek 9, Krach 3, Shields 1, Seidel 11, Cummings 3. Totals – 11 3-13 31.
Black Hawk – Brianna Hagen 2, Hannah Herbst 8, Natalie Leuzinger 14, Hannah Butler 9, Kaylee Marty 2, Maddy Huschitt 1, Bailey Butler 17, Macie Stauffacher 1, Cheyenne Stewart 3. Totals – 21 10-14 57.
3-point goals– NC 6 (Fronek 2, Seidel 3, Cummings 1), BH 5 (Leuzinger 2, B. Butler 2, Stewart 1). Total fouls– NC 13, BH 11. Fouled out– None.
ASHWAUBENON — Black Hawk picked a bad day to have a bad shooting performance.
With a first-ever State title on the line, the top-ranked Lady Warriors inexplicably had their worst shooting performance of the season and were dealt their first loss by #3-ranked Bangor, falling 39-29 in the WIAA Division 5 State Championship Game held at the Resch Center on Saturday, March 10.
“Obviously the thing that stands out to everybody that was in the stadium was the shooting was obviously the issue,” stated Black Hawk head coach Michael Flanagan. “After having a year where we shot the ball so well, we just didn’t get it done. I shouldn’t have opened my big trap when I said that we couldn’t shoot it worse than we did yesterday because we obviously did. I don’t know what to attribute it to. Is it nerves? Is it the moment being a little more than we could handle? I know it wasn’t lack of preparation, and I know it wasn’t taking anything for granted.”
Black Hawk came into Saturday’s championship game riding high after posting 28 consecutive wins en route to the finale, including a 57-31 victory over Newman Catholic in Friday’s state opener (see related story).
The Lady Warriors entered the State Tournament averaging nearly 68 point per game on offense while winning their games by over 38 points per game behind a defense allowing less than 30 points per contest. They had never scored less than 46 points in a game all season, and no opponent finished within 18 points of the Warriors in any game.
The Warriors were also the top 3-point shooting team among the D5 state field in terms of 3-pointers made (204) and shooting percentage (37.4 percent) during the season, while the Cardinals were the worst with 105 made 3-pointers and a 27.3 shooting percentage.
Things were definitely looking golden for the Warriors– at least until tip-off. Then, things got tarnished in a hurry.
The Cardinals (26-3 overall) took a page out of the Warriors’ own playbook by jumping out to an early lead and never letting go of it. Black Hawk (28-1) missed their first five shot attempts and Bangor took advantage, getting a 3-pointer from Alea Fortier and a layup by Jaclynn Freit to open up a 5-0 lead three minutes into the game.
A layup by freshman Bailey Butler got the Warriors on the scoreboard, but the Cardinals ran off seven of the next eight points to build up a 12-3 advantage with 10:01 remaining in the first half. Black Hawk pulled back within five at 14-9 on a 3-pointer by sophomore Natalie Leuzinger with 5:56 to go, however Freit and Ariana Hundt buried 3s down the stretch to send Bangor into the half sporting a 20-11 lead.
“We needed to hit some shots and to Bangor’s credit they shot the ball well from the perimeter. Throughout the course of the season, it hasn’t been as much their M.O. as it’s been ours. It was their day and not ours,” said Flanagan.
Bangor’s 6’2” All-State center Emma Wittmershaus sank another trey to open the second half to put the Cardinals ahead 23-11, but the Warriors steadily chipped away at the deficit by outscoring Bangor 16-4 during an 11-minute span to deadlock the score at 27 all with 5:36 remaining.
B. Butler sank three baskets and sophomore Maddy Huschitt added two jumpers to bring the Warriors within three at 27-24. Then, after forcing a turnover, senior Brianna Hagen swished home a 3-pointer to even the score for the first time since 0-0.
The excitement didn’t last long as Wittmershaus hit a pair of free throws 2 seconds later to thrust the Cardinals back into the lead. Elizabeth Nicolai added a 3 a short time later to extend the lead to 32-27, and the Warriors never got back with two possessions the rest of the way as Bangor went 9-of-18 from the free throw line down the stretch– including a 6-for-10 performance from the stripe in the final minute– to put the game away.
Black Hawk missed nine of their final 10 shots and had four turnovers in the final four minutes, 18 seconds of the game. Leuzinger went to the bench with her fifth foul with 3:04 remaining, and then B. Butler fouled out just 19 seconds later to hurt any chances at a comeback.
The Warriors finished the game shooting just 12-of-62 from the field (19.4 percent), including a chilly 3-of-31 (9.7 percent) effort from 3-point range.
“We’ve had games like this. It just so happened it was in a state championship,” said Leuzinger, who along with Bailey Butler joined Wittmershaus on the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association’s D5 first-team All-State squad. “This was one year that was really special. We wanted to get to the state championship for (the seniors) and we did it. It was one of my goals to get here. It just didn’t end the way I was hoping for.”
Bangor, who committed 28 turnovers against the Warriors’ tenacious run-and-jump full-court pressure, attempted just 27 shots in the game and connected on just 10 of those attempts. However, they went a blistering 6-of-11 from 3-point range (54.5 percent) and they took advantage of 29 opportunities from the foul line to outscore the Warriors 13 to 2 at the line.
Wittmershaus finished with a game-high nine points along with nine rebounds, three blocks shots and two steals. Fortier scored seven points, while Nicolai and Courtney Oesterle added six apiece. Freit tallied five points and pulled down 15 rebounds for Bangor.
B. Butler and sophomore sister Hannah Butler netted eight points apiece to lead the Warriors. Hannah added seven rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
Leuzinger contributed six points, eight rebounds, two steals, a block and an assists, while Huschitt chipped in with four points, four steals and two assists.
Appearing in their final prep game at Black Hawk were seniors Brianna Hagen, Hannah Herbst, Abby Argall and Cheyenne Stewart– who opened Championship Saturday with a rousing version of the National Anthem.
“The coaches couldn’t be more proud of them. They’re the kids who got us here, not always statistically but leadership-wise they were the ones who held this thing together. We’re going to miss them incredibly,” admitted Flanagan. “Everybody wants to look to the future and talk about how young we are and how much success we’re going to have next year. But, that’s going to require some of those younger kids filling in the voids that those seniors will leave.”
As for those seniors, they are proud to leave the program in great shape for the years to come and happy to leave Green Bay with a shiny new trophy for the school’s awards case.
“It’s bittersweet right now. I’m glad we get to go home with a trophy, but it still hurts a bit. I feel fortunate and blessed that we got to win a silver trophy in the last game we’ll ever play in high school. Not a lot of seniors get to experience this. I’ll always have a little piece of my team here at Black Hawk. It was awesome when we first ran out there and our whole entire community was there,” said senior Hannah Herbst, who was selected to participate for the Division 5 South team for this summer’s WBCA All-Star Games.
WIAA DIVISION 5 STATE FINAL
Black Hawk……… 11 18 – 29
Bangor…………… 20 19 – 39
Black Hawk – Brianna Hagen 3, Natalie Leuzinger 6, Hannah Butler 8, Maddy Huschitt 4, Bailey Butler 8. Totals – 12 2-4 29.
Bangor – Hundt 4, Leonard 1, Fortier 7, Nicolai 6, Wittmershaus 9, Freit 5, Oesterle 6, Jones 1. Totals – 10 13-29 39.
3-point goals– BH 3 (Hagen 1, Leuzinger 1, H. Butler 1), B 6 (Hundt 1, Fortier 2, Nicolai 1, Wittmershaus 1, Freit 1). Total fouls– BH 26, B 11. Fouled out– BH: Leunzinger, B. Butler.