So close: Panther upset bid falls short in regional final

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


SARA THOMPSON, Plymouth senior, tries to dribble around Pulaski’s Claire Tomashek in Saturday’s regional basketball fi- nals. Review photo by Greg Ceilley SARA THOMPSON, Plymouth senior, tries to dribble around Pulaski’s Claire Tomashek in Saturday’s regional basketball fi- nals. Review photo by Greg Ceilley PULASKI – Plymouth staged a valiant comeback in the fourth quarter and nearly pulled out an upset win before falling to Pulaski, 56-55, in a Division 2 girls regional basketball final here Saturday night.

Kaily Moegenburg drained a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to bring the Panthers to within 56- 55. The Red Raiders tried to inbound the ball under Plymouth’s basket but it went off a Pulaski player out of bounds which gave PHS possession.

Moegenburg inbounded the ball to Rachael Cecka who missed a shot inside and teammate Marissa Grapentine grabbed the rebound and attempted an off-balance shot from the left baseline at the buzzer but it was off the mark.

“We battled back so far. The girls have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m so proud of them,” said Panther head coach Brad Shutter.


MARISSA GRAPENTINE (left) and Sophia Kiela of Plymouth trap Pulaski’s Claire Tomashek during Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley MARISSA GRAPENTINE (left) and Sophia Kiela of Plymouth trap Pulaski’s Claire Tomashek during Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley “We had a chance at the end and that’s all you can ask for. We got two good shots off.”

The No. 3-seeded Panthers ended an outstanding season at 19- 5. Pulaski, a No. 2 seed, advances to the sectional semifinals with a 16-8 record.

PHS, which trailed by 16 in the second quarter, was down 50- 40 with 5:10 left in the game. The Panthers went on a 15-6 run to close out the contest. Plymouth’s half-court trap keyed the spurt – forcing several steals in the final period. The Red Raiders committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Cecka and Moegenburg ignited the Panthers’ rally with six points each.


RACHEL HOLZHAEUSER of Plymouth is fouled by Ashwaubenon’s Abby Schmitt on a shot during Friday night’s regional basketball game. Holzhaeuser scored the basket and converted a three-point play. The Jaguars’ Sam Crowley helps defend. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky RACHEL HOLZHAEUSER of Plymouth is fouled by Ashwaubenon’s Abby Schmitt on a shot during Friday night’s regional basketball game. Holzhaeuser scored the basket and converted a three-point play. The Jaguars’ Sam Crowley helps defend. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky The Panthers struggled on offense and defense in the first half – committing nine turnovers and allowing several inside baskets. The Red Raiders scored several easy baskets by beating Plymouth’s full-court press.

Mallory Nickerson’s two free throws gave Pulaski a 31-15 advantage with 1:32 left in the first half. The Panthers used a 9-1 tear to cut the deficit to 32-24 at halftime. Mackenzie Haese sank a three-pointer, Nikki Reil and Cecka hit a follow-up shots and Grapentine made a layup off her steal which closed out the first-half scoring.

“We came out in the first half and played hard by weren’t hitting shots and were forcing things on offense. We didn’t make them play defense enough,” said Shutter.

“With our half-court trap, we got steals and caught fire in the fourth quarter. Marissa sparked us in the third quarter and Rachael had a big fourth quarter.

“In the second half, we turned them over more which was a key, and we got points off turnovers,” Shutter said.

Grapentine and Cecka led PHS in scoring with 15 points each, and Moegenburg added 11.

Mariah Szymanski paced the Red Raiders with 13 points, including the eventual game-winning basket on a driving layup with 22 seconds left which upped Pulaski’s lead to 56-52.

“It was a great game. We defi- nitely battled back. It was a hard loss,” said Grapentine, a senior guard.

“I’m very proud of my team. I was confident we would win. Our six seniors didn’t want it to end.

“We didn’t come out in the first half the way we wanted to. In the second half, we played harder than Pulaski did. Everybody wanted it so bad.

“Our defense really came together in the second half,” said Grapentine.

“The only team that won’t feel like us [after Plymouth’s loss to Pulaski] will be the state champion. We had an awesome season,” Shutter said.

“It feels great,” said Pulaski head coach Jim Doell on winning the regional title.

“We had a little bit of luck but we made plays down the stretch. I have the utmost respect for Plymouth. I give them a lot of credit.”

PLYMOUTH 55

PULASKI 56

Score by Quarters
Plymouth…..............9 13 16 17 – 55
Pulaski...................13 19 14 10 – 56

Plymouth scoring: Rachel Holzhaeuser 3, Rachael Cecka 15, Kaily Moegenburg 11, Nikki Reil 4, Marissa Grapentine 15, Mackenzie Haese 3, Sophia Kiela 4.

Pulaski scoring: Claire Tomashek 4, Emily Simmons 12, Rylie Wargo 5, Mckenna Egnarski 2, Cienna Doell 5, Mariah Szymanski 13, Kendra Ford 3, Mallory Nickerson 12.

Three-point goals: Grapentine 1, Haese 1, Moegenburg 2, Cecka 1, Szymanski 2, Doell 1.

Field goals: Plymouth 18-56, 32%; Pulaski 22-40, 55%. Free throws: Plymouth 14-22, 64%; Pulaski 9-15, 60%.


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