Tigers to play Appleton North on Saturday in sectional final
By Paul Lecker
WAUPACA — The Marshfield and Neenah girls basketball teams had their backs against the wall time and time again during Thursday night’s WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. When one team hit, the other hit back.
In the end it was Marshfield that was able to come out on top, surviving a wild finish to win 74-71 in overtime at Waupaca High School and advance to Saturday’s sectional final.
Neenah’s Abby Rudolph made a shot from half-court as time expired to force the extra four-minute period, but the Tigers never trailed in overtime as senior McKayla Scheuer scored 10 of her 27 points in the final 2:38 to lift Marshfield to the victory.
The Tigers (23-2) will play Appleton North (21-4) in a sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest High School for a berth in next week’s WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament in Green Bay.
“I was upset,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said of what transpired after the half-court heave to tie the game. “You think, ‘That just doesn’t happen.’ You just have to pick yourself up and battle. They were in the same position with people in foul trouble. It’s a kick in the face when that happens, but it shows a lot of character from our kids to hang in there.”
Marshfield will be trying to qualify for the state tournament for the sixth time in school history and first since 2009. This will be the Tigers’ first sectional final since 2012 when they lost to Oshkosh West.
“We’re so excited,” said Marshfield junior Ema Fehrenbach, who had 30 points before fouling out with 2:10 to go in regulation. “We know how much our hard work has paid off, and we’re really excited to be there to play.”
Marshfield seemed in control early, jumping out to a 12-3 lead as Fehrenbach scored eight points to push the Tigers out in front.
Neenah quickly made a game of it, scoring six of the next eight points, and it was tight the rest of the way.
Marshfield led 30-24 at halftime, and Neenah used a 9-0 run to counter three baskets by Fehrenbach to take its first lead at 39-36 with 13:08 remaining in regulation.
The Rockets (17-8) led by as many as four only to see Marshfield counter and tie the game at 47-47 on a 3-pointer by Meg Bryan with 8:30 left.
There were six lead changes and four ties during the final 5 ½ minutes.
Fehrenbach, who made 13 of 17 shots from the field, scored her last points at the 2:50 mark but then picked up two fouls in an 11-second span and fouled out with 2:10 to go. Nicole Marquardt’s two free throws gave Neenah a 57-55 lead.
Scheuer made one of two at the line but got the rebound on the miss, and after a timeout freshman Jenna Jakobi hit a short jumper off a rebound to put Marshfield back on top by one.
Neenah missed on its next two possessions before Scheuer missed two free throws with 19.3 seconds to go. After another miss by the Rockets, Scheuer redeemed herself with two makes at the line, giving the Tigers a 60-57 lead with 5.3 seconds left.
Neenah called a timeout and got the ball to Rudolph, who put up a shot from half court with 3 seconds left, and it swished through just before the buzzer sounded to send the game to overtime.
“We couldn’t put our heads down, and we had to keep going,” Fehrenbach said. “The overtime was so much time for us to play. We had to keep pushing.”
The game was tied three times in the extra frame, but the Tigers never trailed.
Scheuer hit a 3-pointer, Bryan made two free throws, and Scheuer hit a driving lay-in only to see Neenah come back and score each time.
A basket by Rudolph knotted the score at 69-69 with 52 seconds to go. Scheuer made five of six at the line over the final 46 seconds, including two with 11.9 to go to put Marshfield up three.
Neenah had no more heroics left as Paige Helgerson missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to seal the win for Marshfield.
“These girls hung in there and found a way to win. I don’t know how else to say it,” Michaelis said. “It goes back and forth the entire game. They made big shots. We told McKayla to get the ball and, if they are going to call fouls, drive to the hoop.
“I looked at her and told her, ‘Don’t give it up. If we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose with it in your hands.’ She took it upon herself to make a little dribbling (clinic) and make them follow her. She was upset after she missed those two free throws (at the end of regulation), and she wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
Michaelis expects another tough one with Appleton North on Saturday. North defeated Eau Claire Memorial 61-53 on Thursday and beat Neenah by nine and 18 points in its two matchups during the Fox Valley Association season.
“They have good guards and are going to pick you up full court and pressure you,” Michaelis said of North. “As tough as Neenah was, they are probably better. We’re going to have to play defense. That’s just the way it is.
“We wanted that opportunity to play in the one game to make it worth everything. Anytime you play in a sectional final game, it’s up for grabs. It comes down to who makes shots, who comes out ready to go. We know we’re going to have to play probably our best game, and we’re OK with that. They’ve found a way to win all year when their backs are against the wall, and they’ve continued to play for each other, and that’s been really fun to see.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Tigers 74, Rockets 71 (OT)
Neenah 24 36 11 – 71
Marshfield 30 30 14 – 74
NEENAH (71): Alyssa Barnes 2-4 2-2 6, Abby Rudolph 6-16 0-0 14, Katie Sukanen 3-9 4-8 10, Rachel Resch 2-9 6-8 10, Paige Helgerson 0-5 0-0 0, Julia Harvath 2-3 0-0 6, Nicole Marquardt 5-15 15-19 25, Kate Dietzen 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 20-62. FT: 27-37. 3-pointers: 4-16 (Rudolph 2-8, Harvath 2-2, Heldgerson 0-5, Dietzen 0-1). Rebounds: 37 (Marquardt 16). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: Barnes. Record: 17-8.
MARSHFIELD (74): McKayla Scheuer 8-18 8-12 27, Meg Bryan 1-5 2-2 5, Sara Dasler 2-3 0-0 4, Jenna Jakobi 2-6 0-0 4, Maddie Nikolai 2-7 0-1 4, Ema Fehrenbach 13-17 4-4 30, Hannah Meverden 0-1 0-1 0. FG: 28-57. FT: 14-20. 3-pointers: 4-18 (Scheuer 3-12, Bryan 1-5, Dasler 0-1). Rebounds: 37 (Fehrenbach 8, Meverden 7, Scheuer 7). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 25. Fouled out: Fehrenbach, Meverden. Record: 23-2.