Stratford plays regional final at Marathon on Saturday night
By Steve Pilz
STRATFORD — The Stratford girls basketball team overcame a few shooting woes Friday night, including some trouble at the free throw line.
It all worked out in the end as the Tigers shook off a halftime tie and cruised to a 55-41 win over the Crandon Cardinals in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal at Stratford High School.
Stratford had beaten the stubborn Cards in overtime at the Lakeland Holiday tournament in late December, so Tigers coach Tammie Christopherson was not completely surprised by the first half.
“We played Crandon over Christmas, and we won in overtime,” Christopherson said. “We knew we’d have a game on our hands. Erdmann (Amira) is a pretty amazing player for them. Sammy Griesbach guarded the heck out of her. Sammy got her to the point where she didn’t know where to go.
“We picked up some early fouls, and that hurt us. I played some kids up from the JV and told them to just maintain, and we did that. Despite our free throw trouble, we managed to make enough in the second half, keep our defense tight, and run the offense.”
It was definitely a good thing the Tigers made some second-half free throws because they were 0-for-7 in the first half and just 9-for-39 from the field. They squandered an early 10-point lead and went to the half tied at 21-21.
Macie Frueh had 11 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers, while Griesbach chipped in with six.
One wild card the Tigers had up their sleeve showed up again in the second half in the person of Chelsey Gliniecki. Gliniecki made 5 of 10 free throws in the second half after missing all four of her attempts in the first 16 minutes, but her play around the basket was key. She made 3 of 6 shots and cleared the boards 11 times, including nine offensive rebounds.
“Gliniecki had the game of her sophomore season,” Christopherson said. “She played really well.”
As the Tigers steadily pulled away, Crandon began to run out of players as three Cardinals fouled out late. The Tigers righted the ship a bit at the foul line, cashing in on 13 of 28 free throws in the second half.
Stratford has not had much luck this season with Saturday’s opponent. Top-seed Marathon (20-3), the Marawood South tri-champion, beat the Tigers by 20 in January and by 28 about a month later. The Tigers will play at Marathon in a regional final at 7 p.m.
“Marathon is the best team we’ve played this year,” Christopherson said. “We played Assumption and Auburndale tough, but I told the girls that we can be a Cinderella story. The pressure’s on them, not us.”
Tigers 55, Cardinals 41
Crandon 21 20 – 41
Stratford 21 34 – 55
CRANDON (41): Alexa Neilitz 3-10 4-9 9, Sarah Kalkofen 1-5 1-2 4, Erin Howerton 1-2 0-3 2, Katelynn Houle 1-1 0-0 2, Amira Erdmann 5-14 1-2 12, Kayla Littleton 1-5 2-5 4, Mikenzie Flannery 0-2 2-4 2, Anike Sulaimon 2-5 2-4 6. FG: 14-43. FT: 10-24. 3-pointers: 3-10. (Erdmann 1, Neilitz 1, Kalkofen 1). Rebounds 30 (Erdmann 8). Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: Whitney Conn, Neilitz, Howerton. Record: 18-6.
STRATFORD (55): Savannah Schillinger 2-12 5-7 10, Sammy Griesbach 5-9 0-3 10, Macie Frueh 5-17 1-2 14, Chelsey Gliniecki 3-6 5-14 11, Kaylee Hollatz 3-4 0-0 6, Andie Zuelke 1-8 2-8 4, Blaire Lindner 0-1 0-0 0, Olivia Burrows 0-3 0-0 0. FG: 19-64 FT: 13-34. 3-pointers: 4-21 (Frueh 3, Schillinger 1). Rebounds: 32 (Gliniecki 11). Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: none. Record: 17-6.