By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – Survive and move on. That’s playoff basketball in a nutshell and the Marshfield girls basketball team survived a tight one Saturday night to advance.
The Tigers were held to just one field goal over the final 7½ minutes but made eight-straight free throws down the stretch to claw past Eau Claire North 45-41 in a WIAA Division 1 regional final at The Boson Company Fieldhouse at Marshfield High School.
Marshfield won its eighth-straight game and improves to 22-2, tying a school-record for wins in a season that was set in 2004-05 and equaled in 2005-06 and 2008-09.
The Tigers will face Neenah (17-7) in a sectional semifinal on Thursday at a site to be determined. Appleton North (20-4) and Eau Claire Memorial (21-3) will play in the other sectional semifinal at Appleton East and the winners will face each other in a sectional final on Saturday, March 5, at D.C. Everest with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
“It means a lot,” Marshfield senior McKayla Scheuer said. “We’ve put (in) so much hard work. That’s our goal, to make it to state. If we didn’t win tonight, obviously, it would be hard to get there. We just want to keep winning.”
Marshfield trailed by as much as six at 17-11 before cutting it down to 18-15 at the break after a late basket by Maddie Nikolai.
The offense got better in the second half as McKayla Scheuer and Meg Bryan made 3-pointers, and Hannah Meverden hit a 12-foot jumper on the Tigers’ first three possessions to put them up 23-20.
North (13-11) responded with a 10-0 run to open up its largest lead at 30-23 with 12:52 to go, and from there it was tight the rest of the way.
Marshfield scored the next seven to tie the game, and Bryan hit her third 3-pointer of the second half at the 7:45 mark to give the Tigers a 35-32 lead.
The two teams exchanged the lead again. Two free throws by Scheuer put Marshfield up one before North’s Nikki Kilboten tied it with a free throw of her own.
Neither team scored for more than 2 minutes before Meverden swished a pair at the line to give Marshfield a 41-39 lead with 1:06 to go.
After a missed 3-pointer by the Huskies, Bryan made two more free throws to put the Tigers up four. Kilboten scored with 3 seconds left, but Scheuer put the game away with two more at the line with 1.6 seconds to go.
“The girls hung in there,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said. “To shoot 17 percent in the first half and only be down three, then came back out and got on a roll. North kept matching, we couldn’t hold a lead.
“It came down to who could make stops and then Hannah, Meg and Scheuer make big free throws. It’s been like it has all year, they just didn’t get rattled.”
Marshfield shot just 32.5 percent (13 of 40), but were 8-for-14 in the second half, and more importantly, were 10 of 11 at the free throw line.
Ema Fehrenbach had 14 points on just six shots as she made 6 of 7 free throws to lead Marshfield. Bryan had all 11 of her points in the
second half, and Scheuer finished with nine, including the four big free throws in the closing minutes.
“They threw us off with their 1-2-2 matchup zone and we didn’t know to run a zone play or a man-to-man play and it kind of threw us off a bit,” Scheuer said. “We always stress those free throws in practice and make sure we get them.”
Marshfield moves on to sectionals for the second year in a row and the 12th time in Michaelis’ 15-year career as head coach. The Tigers are two wins away from their sixth state tournament appearance and first since 2009.
“At halftime, we were positive,” Michaelis said. “You can’t shoot that poorly, you wouldn’t think, for an entire game. They didn’t hang their heads. It was just one of those games where we found a way at the end.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Tigers 45, Huskies 41
Eau Claire North 18 23 – 41
Marshfield 15 30 – 45
EAU CLAIRE NORTH (41): Matelyn Peplinski 0-4 0-0 0, Haley DeSouza 4-8 0-0 10, Larkin Hoepner 0-1 0-0 0, Brianna Banks 1-3 0-0 3, Mariah Kent 1-1 0-0 2, Kate Klauck 0-1 0-0 0, Nikki Kilboten 7-8 1-2 15, Markeysha Hazelton 5-10 1-2 11. FG: 18-36. FT: 2-4. 3-pointers: 3-14 (DeSouza 2-6, Banks 1-3, Hazelton 0-1, Peplinski 0-4). Rebounds: 19 (Hazelton 5). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: none. Record: 13-11.
MARSHFIELD (45): McKayla Scheuer 2-11 4-4 9, Meg Bryan 3-9 2-2 11, Jenna Jakobi 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Nikolai 2-4 1-2 5, Ema Fehrenbach 4-6 6-7 14, Hannah Meverden 2-10 2-3 6. FG: 13-40. FT: 15-18. 3-pointers: 4-15 (Bryan 3-8, Scheuer 1-7). Rebounds: 21 (Nikolai 7). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: none. Record: 22-2.