By Steve Pilz
AUBURNDALE – Auburndale couldn’t muster any offense the entire game and it caught up to them in the second half.
The second-seeded Apaches made just 7 of 46 shots from the field and dropped a 42-26 decision to Neillsville in a WIAA Division 4 regional final Saturday night at Auburndale High School.
Auburndale had beaten Neillsville 46-40 in Neillsville back on Nov. 30, but the Warriors were able to pull out the playoff game as both teams came in hot. Auburndale had its 16-game win streak snapped, while Neillsville (20-4) have won 10 of 11 and move on to face Marathon (21-3) in a sectional semifinal Thursday at Wausau West.
Auburndale was about as cold shooting as a team can get. The Apaches shot just 3-for-19 (16 percent) in the first half and followed it up with a 4-for-27 (14 percent) performance in the second half, leaving Auburndale coach Scott Meidl shaking his head.
“It was just our worst shooting night; free throws and otherwise,” Meidl said. “It’s hard to put your finger on it. It wasn’t for lack of effort.
“Give them (Neillsville) credit. They had a good game plan. They sunk in on our posts and created problems. Offensively we couldn’t find the open girl for some reason. We couldn’t recognize the open player. We tried to make adjustments at the half and at timeouts but nothing seemed to work.”
Neillsville led 19-13 at the break and pulled away late.
The Warriors shot the ball well, preferring to go for the long ball. They hit 8 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc to just 3-for-8 from two-point range.
With the Apaches as icy as they were, Neillsville just needed to manage the game down the stretch. They shot 11 of 20 from the free throw line in the second half to just 3 for 6 for the Apaches. Auburndale had a slight advantage of 26-21 on the glass.
Auburndale finishes the season with a 21-3 record.
“We had a great year,” Meidl concluded. “Of course it’s disappointing, but we had a great group of seniors that gave it their all for our basketball program.”
Paiton Richardson led Auburndale with nine points.
Ashlee Diestler led the Warriors with 12 points, all via the 3-pointer. Teammate Morgan Hauge was the other player in double digits for Neillsville with 10.
(Steve Pilz is also a contributor to Marshfield Area Sports.)
Warriors 42, Apaches 26
Neillsville 19 23 – 42
Auburndale 13 13 – 26
NEILLSVILLE (42): Mindy Schoengarth 0-2 5-6 5, Morgan Hauge 2-4 5-9 10, Kayla Lis 2-7 1-6 6, Danielle Pfeiffer 3-3 1-3 9, Ashlee Diestler 4-7 0-0 12,Samantha Cappadora 0-0 0-2 0, Lauren Mesar 0-2 0-0 0. FG: 11-25. FT: 12-26. 3-pointers: 8-17. Rebounds: 21 (Pfeiffer 5). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: none. Record: 20-4.
AUBURNDALE (26): Brooke Anderson 1-9 0-0 3, Allsion Linzmeier 2-5 0-0 5, Rachael Bolder 0-1 0-0 0, Sylviann Momont 1-2 0-0 2, Ashley Peplinski 0-4 0-0 0, Paiton Richardson 1-13 6-7 9, Taylor Gotz 2-12 3-11 7. FG: 7-46. FT: 9-20. 3-pointers: 3-22. Rebounds: 26 (Richardson 6, Gotz 6). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 24. Fouled out: Anderson, Gotz. Record: 21-3.