By Paul Lecker
AUBURNDALE — A two-minute stretch of the first quarter gave the Auburndale girls basketball team all it needed to grab a much needed win in the Marawood Conference South Division.
Taylor Gotz scored baskets inside on four-straight possessions, and Cheyenne Karl added a long jumper to fuel an 11-2 run midway through the first quarter and help push Auburndale to a 45-33 over previously undefeated Marathon on Tuesday night at Auburndale High School.
The win puts the Apaches (10-2 overall, 4-1 Marawood South) back in the conference title chase. A loss would have dropped them two games in back of Marathon. Instead, Auburndale, Marathon, and Wisconsin Rapids Assumption are tied at 4-1 for first place.
“This is by far the best game that we’ve played as far as being physical and having the attitude that we want to come out with,” Auburndale coach Scott Meidl said. “Shannon (Yahnke) was in foul trouble early (She finished with just two points.), and we had some turnovers. Things didn’t go our way now and then, but we fought back.”
The first-quarter run pushed Auburndale out to a 13-5 lead. Gotz and Sylviann Momont added hoops in the final 40 seconds to give the Apaches a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Auburndale led by no less than nine points the rest of the game, but the Apaches could never feel safe.
Marathon (9-1, 4-1 Marawood South) continued to harass Auburndale with a full-court press and a half-court trap that forced 18 turnovers. However, the Apaches were able to hold their own on the defensive end. Marathon made just 13 of 44 shots from the field and had 20 turnovers.
“You look up there, and you’re up 15, but you feel like it’s a tie ball game,” Meidl said. “All of a sudden they put that press on and get a steal here or there. That can really swing the tide. We called a couple of timeouts to settle ourselves down a little bit and let the girls know that we’re the ones in control. It was a team effort. Everyone did what they were supposed to do. When all the fundamentals take care of themselves, you can win a ball game.”
Auburndale closed out the first half with a modest 5-0 advantage over the final 2:35 to go up 30-15.
Marathon scored the first six points of the third quarter to close to within nine, but the Raiders would not score again for nearly six minutes.
Paiton Richardson had six of her 15 points in an 8-0 run that pushed the Apaches up 17 at 38-21.
Marathon, ranked fourth in this week’s WisSports.net Division 4 state coaches poll, closed to within 10 on a 3-pointer by Morgan Rachu with 5:55 remaining, but again the Apaches put down the clamps on defense. Auburndale forced three turnovers and four-straight misses. Gotz and Richardson made baskets to stem the tide and ice the victory for Auburndale.
“We knew it would be a hard game to play,” said Gotz, who had 16 points and six rebounds for the Apaches. “We knew in order to stick with them we’d have to play really hard. We worked a lot with help defense and that we had to have each other’s backs.”
Auburndale plays at Northland Lutheran on Friday.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Apaches 45, Raiders 33
Marathon 7 8 8 10 – 33
Auburndale 17 13 8 7 – 45
MARATHON (33): Julia Anderson 1-9 2-6 4, Bailey Seubert 0-3 0-0 0, Jayci Blume 1-4 0-2 2, Morgan Rachu 4-6 1-2 10, Olivia Meurette 3-6 1-1 7, Amanda Kind 1-5 2-2 4, Natasha Hanke 1-5 0-0 2, Emily Kind 2-6 0-0 4. FG: 13-44. FT: 6-13. 3-pointers: 1-6 (Rachu 1-2, Anderson 0-2, Blume 0-1, Hanke 0-1). Rebounds: 21 (Rachu 6). Turnovers: 20. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 9-1, 4-1 Marawood South.
AUBURNDALE (45): Allison Linzmeier 1-3 1-2 3, Cheyenne Karl 2-4 0-0 4, Jenna Peplinski 1-5 0-0 2, Sylviann Momont 1-2 1-2 3, Paiton Richardson 7-9 1-2 15, Shannon Yahnke 1-6 0-0 2, Taylor Gotz 7-15 2-5 16. FG: 20-44. FT: 5-11. 3-pointers: 0-1 (Karl 0-1). Rebounds: 25 (Gotz 6, Momont 6). Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: none. Record: 10-2, 4-1 Marawood South.