The WIAA girl’s basketball state semifinals for Division 1, 2 and 3, at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis, were filled with plenty of surprises.
As the thunderous roar of the crowd sounded their drums, the players sprinted the court with the opportunity to become a hero for their respective schools.
In the first session of the day, Division 3 Cuba City crushed Brillion 56-40 to remain undefeated, and Oostberg easily took care of Osseo-Fairchild 64-43. Cuba City won on the strength of turnovers. They forced 16 and scored 17 points on them. Oostberg shot 60 percent and Julie Raeder scored 27 points to overcome 17 turnovers.
The championship will be after the Division 4 final, and Oostberg will need to limit their turnovers. Cuba City has the balance and the defense to limit Raeder, and the turnovers will only make it easier. However, Raeder is the type of player who can lead a team to a title by herself. If she shoots as well as the semifinal, it could be a long day for Cuba City. These two teams met in the state semifinals last year, and Cuba City, the state runner-up last year, won 43-40. The difference in that game: Cuba City had 10 points off of 15 turnovers.
In the second session, Winneconne upset Monroe, the No. 1 team in the division, 31-30, and New Berlin Eisenhower survived with a 50-48 win over Altoona. Monroe had their worst game since their only other loss at Division 1 Verona. They shot 26 percent and were dominated in the paint. They outscored 15-4 down low, even with the Jamie Armstrong and Ashley Hermanson. New Berlin Eisenhower out rebounded Altoona 35-26, including a 15-9 advantage on the offensive glass.
The championship will be tomorrow after the Division 3 final. Winneconne will need to shoot better than the semifinal, because 26 percent won’t beat the Lady Lions. New Berlin Eisenhower runs a quick offense, and they rebound well. The game could be over in the first half. However, Winneconne’s defense did hold Monroe to only 30 points.
The Division 4 final will feature Black Hawk and Newman Catholic. Black Hawk will need to limit turnovers, or they will have no chance. Newman Catholic forced 23 turnovers and scored 30 points from them in their semifinal versus Weston. Black Hawk only shot 26 percent, but they scored 21 points from turnovers to survive the game. The final may be a defensive battle, but Black Hawk needs to make the shots they should.
The Division 1 game will pit Milwaukee Pius XI, who defeated Milwaukee Vincent 63-58, and De Pere, who won 53-36 over Wausau. Milwaukee Vincent were two-time defending champions.
Tennessee upsets Ohio State 76-73, even though Evan Turner scored 31 points for the buckeyes. The difference: Tennessee had 18 offensive rebounds, and they also had more balance on the offensive side. Wayne Chism had 22 points to lead the three other double-digit scorers for the Volunteers.
In the other early game, Baylor easily beats Saint Mary’s (Calif) 72-49. The Gaels only hit six 3-pointers out of 22 attempts, and they were out rebounded 37-25. Baylor is a final four pick to some, including I Am Sportacus writer Josh Smith. They may make it there yet. The win was very impressive. With the loss, no double-digit seeds remain.
In the late games, Michigan won a slow, defensive Big Ten type of game over Northern Iowa 59-52. The Panthers played great defense, but the Spartans shot better in the end. Northern Iowa was 4-16 from the 3-point line, and Michigan State out rebounded them 31-18. Northern Iowa didn’t hit a field goal for the last six minutes. The No. 5 Spartans will face the No. 6 Volunteers on Sunday for a chance to make the Final Four.
In the last game, Robbie Hummel’s absence finally caught up with Purdue as Duke blew them out 70-57. They didn’t have enough weapons to compete with Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, who combined for 57 points. JaJaun Johnson did all he could with 23 points. Duke is the second No. 1 seed to advance to the Elite Eight, but a great Baylor team will test the Blue Devils.