By Paul Lecker
WESTON – Even in defeat, there is no questioning the Marshfield girls basketball team’s collective grit, guts and determination.
After two tight playoff victories the Tigers’ magic came to an end Saturday as they lost to Appleton North 56-54 in a WIAA Division 1 girls basketball sectional final at D.C. Everest High School.
Marshfield (23-3) battled back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to take a one-point lead late but a basket by Callie Pohlman with 11 seconds to go was enough to give North the victory.
Appleton North (22-4) advances to its first WIAA state tournament since 2001 where it will take on Verona (23-3) in a Division 1 semifinal Friday night at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Following Pohlman’s basket, Marshfield raced down court and fed the ball to Ema Fehrenbach, who had her shot blocked out of bounds with 5 seconds to go.
After a timeout, Marshfield got the ball to McKayla Scheuer, who found Fehrenbach on a roll to the basket, but it was a split-second too late. Fehrenbach made the basket, however the horn had already sounded.
“She got open late – one more second and it’s good,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said. “You want the ball with Ema going to the left side finishing. Appleton North covered it well and knew what it was. You always like to get a shot off at least and when you don’t it’s kind of hard.”
Marshfield led for most of the first half – by as much as five at two spots – before North went on a 13-3 run during the final 5:42 to take a 31-24 lead. Kari Brekke, who led North with 18 points, scored seven in the run.
North built its lead to 44-32 after a basket by Anna Laux, a 3-pointer from Sydney Levy, and a transition layup by Grace Garvey with 12:10 to go.
Marshfield, which fought back from late deficits in its two previous playoff wins against Eau Claire North and Neenah, did it again.
“We were turning the ball over, getting one shot and done, stopped being aggressive,” Michaelis said. “We took a timeout and it was simply a matter of saying, ‘This is the way we’re going to end our season but just going away? Not doing what we had been doing to get us to this point?’ They kind of got mad. They played that last eight minutes with a ‘what do we have to do attitude’ and played more freely.”
A 3-pointer from Scheuer and baskets by Fehrenbach and Hannah Meverden sparked a 13-2 run that got the Tigers back in it.
North went nearly 8 minutes without a field goal as Marshfield cut it to 46-45 on another Meverden hoop.
Meg Bryan, who had a team-high 17 points, hit her fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the game to give Marshfield’s its first lead of the second half at 51-50 with 3:55 left.
After two North free throws, Meverden hit another jumper and the Tigers led 53-52 with 2:28 remaining.
That was the Tigers’ last made basket and lead of the game. Levy, who had 14 points, scored on a drive to the hoop with 1:56 left, and neither team scored for more than a minute.
Fehrenbach made one of two free throws to tie the game with 48.8 seconds left before Pohlman hit her game-winner.
“This hurts to lose this game because you’re so close, especially by two points on the last possession, but that’s the team – the way they ended those last eight minutes – (they) did that all year,” Michaelis said. “It says a lot about them. They believed to the very end that this was their time to go to state and we just came up a possession short.”
Scheuer finished with 14 points and six rebounds, Fehrenbach had 11 points and six rebounds, and Meverden had nine points and eight boards for the Tigers, who won a school-record 23 games this season.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Lightning 56, Tigers 54
Marshfield 24 30 – 54
Appleton North 31 25 – 56
MARSHFIELD (54): McKayla Scheuer 5-12 1-1 14, Meg Bryan 6-13 0-0 17, Sara Dasler 0-1 0-0 0, Jenna Jakobi 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Nikolai 1-5 1-2 3, Ema Fehrenbach 3-9 5-7 11, Hannah Meverden 4-7 1-2 9. FG: 19-47. FT: 8-12. 3-pointers: 8-17 (Bryan 5-11, Scheuer 3-5, Dasler 0-1). Rebounds: 30 (Meverden 8). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none. Record: 23-3.
APPLETON NORTH (56): Kari Brekke 5-13 6-7 18, Taylor Sieg 1-6 0-0 2, Sydney Squier 0-0 0-0 0, Paige Schabo 2-7 0-2 5, Anna Laux 2-3 3-3 7, Callie Pohlman 3-7 0-1 6, Kylee Beecher 0-0 0-0 0, Sydney Levy 6-10 0-2 14, Claire Riebau 0-1 0-0 0, Grace Garvey 2-2 0-0 4. FG: 21-49. FT: 9-15. 3-pointers: 5-15 (Brekke 2-3, Levy 2-3, Schabo 1-4, Laux 0-1, Riebau 0-1, Sieg 0-3). Rebounds: 23 (Schabo 4, Pohlman 4, Levy 4). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none. Record: 22-4.