CUBA CITY – If you can’t remember the last time a Lancaster girls basketball team beat Cuba City in a playoff game, you probably aren’t alone.
That’s because it’s been 36 years since the Flying Arrows have gotten by the Cubans in the playoffs, and last Friday night that streak came to and end with a 61-52 victory in division 4 regional semifinal action.
Parents of this year’s Lancaster team were most likely the ones in high school back in 1983, when the Flying Arrows last beat Cuba City in the playoffs with a 57-50 victory in regional action.
It’s no wonder this year’s team had the Cubans on their check list of teams they’d most like to beat heading into the season, along with Platteville and Richland Center.
“That’s only because, with this group of girls that we’ve got, those were the three teams we just haven’t gotten a win against,” explained coach Rob Wagner.
All that changed Friday night, when the fifth-seeded Flying Arrows wouldn’t be denied against the fourth-seeded Cubans.
“The kids just played really well,” said coach Wagner. “They were grinding it out and were not going to go down without a fight. They just kept playing hard and got some shots to fall. It was a big win for us, and it was pretty exciting for us to get that one.”
Cuba City jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on the Arrows, but Lancaster took a 15-14 lead of their own with 7:18 to play in the first half.
Ironically, shortly after taking the lead, senior Devin Wagner and Lydia Murphy were sent to the bench, each with two fouls, and they remained their for the rest of the first half.
At that point, Lancaster had two juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen on the floor.
“That was the first time all year where I’ve had both of them out, and it just makes me nervous,” said coach Wagner. “I just don’t want either of those two to have three fouls to start the second half, so we were just going to let them sit unless we absolutely had to put them back in.”
There was no need to take the risk, though Lancaster did give up the lead, they never trailed by more than three points throughout the rest of the first half.
“The other kids played well, and we were only down three at the half, and that’s all we wanted them to do, was to keep us in the ball game, which they did,” Wagner said.
The Cubans extended their lead to six points early in the second half, but Lancaster managed to tie the score at 35-35 with 11:35 to play on a 3-pointer by Wagner.
The Arrows never gave up the lead from that point on, and in fact, outscored the Cubans, 12-0, in the next seven minutes to claim a 47-35 lead with just over five minutes to play.
“Fortunately they didn’t shoot well in the second half, and we were able to take advantage of it,” said Wagner.
Trailing Lancaster, 47-37, with three minutes to play, the Cubans played the foul game, making the Arrows earn the win at the free throw line.
In the final 2:45, Lancaster made 12-of-21 free throw attempts, as Cuba City pulled as close as six points with 25 seconds to play.
On the night, Lancaster made 20-of-48 (42%) shot attempts, including 2-of-13 (15%) from 3-point range. They were 19-of-32 (59%) from the free throw line, committed 12 turnovers and outscored the Cubans, 16-3 in transition.
Lydia Murphy led Lancaster with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while Devin Wagner added 13, to go along with a team-high four steals.
Chipping in six points and pulling down a team-high eight rebounds was freshman Sophie Uppena, while fellow freshman Bridee Burks added six points, seven boards and four assists.
“The kids just played really hard, and we had some kids really step up when we needed them to,” said coach Wagner.
Unfortunately for the Arrows, their season came to an end this past Monday night with a 71-53 loss to top-seeded Aquinas in a regional final contest rescheduled from last Saturday night.
In that contest, Wagner led the Arrows with 15 points, while Murphy and junior Brooklyn Connelly each chipped in 11.
Lancaster concluded the season with an overall record of 15-8 after going 5-5 in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference to finish fourth behind Prairie du Chien (9-1), Platteville (8-2) and Richland Center (6-4).
Lancaster 61, Cuba City 52
(D4 regional semifinal from Friday, Feb. 22, @ Cuba City)
Lancaster 22 39 - 61
Cuba City 25 27 - 52
Lancaster - Bridee Burks 6, Lydia Murphy 18, Morgan DeBuhr 5, Kiley Kelly 9, Brooklyn Connelly 4, Devin Wagner 13, Sophie Uppena 6. Totals - 20-48, 19-32 61.
Cuba City - Jenna Droessler 4, Elizabeth Misky 22, Courtney Busch 5, Kiera Holzemer 11, Sophia Sander 5, Madison Calvert 3, #14 2. Totals - 18-59, 10-21 52.
3-point goals - L: (2-13) Murphy 1, Wagner 1; CC: (6-29) Misky 5, Holzemer 1. Team fouls - L 17, CC 22. Fouled out - Busch (CC).
Aquinas 71, Lancaster 53
(D4 regional final from Monday, Feb. 25, at Aquinas)
Lancaster 23 30 - 53
Aquinas 44 27 - 71
Lancaster - Bridee Burks 6, Lydia Murphy 11, Morgan DeBuhr 2, Kiley Kelly 5, Brooklyn Connelly 11, Devin Wagner 15, Sophie Uppena 3. Totals - 53.
Aquinas - Taylor Theusch 17, Megan Scheidt 4, Kayla Bahr 7, Lexi Donarski 25, Jacy Weisbrod 2, Courtney Becker 14, Libby Hlavacka 2. Totals - 28-68, 6-9 71.
3-point goals - L: ; A: (9-28) Theusch 5, Bahr 1, Donarski 3. Team fouls - L n/a, A n/a. Fouled out - n/a.