Panthers cruise to win in regional semis

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

RACHAEL CECKA, Plymouth forward, drives to the basket against Ashwaubenon’s Hailey Edlebeck in Friday night’s regional basketball game. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky RACHAEL CECKA, Plymouth forward, drives to the basket against Ashwaubenon’s Hailey Edlebeck in Friday night’s regional basketball game. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers, sparked by their vaunted pressure defense, put the hammer down early as they rolled past Ashwaubenon, 65-51, in the Division 2 girls regional basketball semifinals here Friday night.

PHS, a No. 3 seed, ran its winning streak to 10 and improved to 19-4. The No. 6-seeded Jaguars finished 4-19.

The Panthers blew out to a 26-9 lead after one quarter and were in command the rest of the way. Plymouth’s full-court press was the catalyst as it caused most of the Jaguars’ 11 turnovers in the opening period. PHS converted many of the turnovers into transition points.

Senior forward Rachael Cecka ignited the PHS attack in the first quarter with 12 of her 16 points. Cecka was unstoppable as she scored on strong moves inside and from the outside, including a three-pointer. Mackenzie Haese capped off the Panthers’ onslaught with a three-point goal at the end of the quarter.

“We had a really good first half. We came out strong,” said Panther senior guard Sophia Kiela.

“We scored quick points off turnovers which got their team flustered. Once we adjusted to their press-breaker, it [press] worked in our favor. We shot the ball very well in the first half.”

The Jaguars cut the deficit to 30-16 midway through the second quarter with a 7-0 run. PHS answered with an 11-0 surge to build a 41-16 advantage with about one minute remaining until halftime. Nikki Reil and Kaily Moegenburg tallied four points each to key the spurt.

In the first half, the Panthers did a good job of taking advantage of its edge in size by scoring several points inside. PHS also attacked the basket very well throughout the contest which helped key the offense.

PHS forced 20 turnovers in the opening half.

The closest Ashwaubenon could come in the second half was 13 at 49-36 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter. Moegenburg buried a trey to give PHS a 52-36 lead going into the fourth.

“We were outstanding in the first quarter. Rachael Cecka was outstanding starting out,” said PHS head coach Brad Shutter. “We did a nice job with our press.

“We did a nice job of attacking the basket, and taking what they were giving us and knocking in shots in the first quarter.”

Moegenburg, a junior guardforward, scored a game-high 18 points. Reil led PHS in rebounds with 10 off the bench, followed by Moegenburg’s nine. The Panthers dominated the boards with a 44-25 rebounding edge, including 21-2 on offense.

PHS had an impressive 21 steals, led by Kiela with six. Marissa Grapentine and Rachel Holzhaeuser added three each. Grapentine dished out a team-high six assists.

“We knew we could get the ball inside. They couldn’t match up inside with Cecka, Moegenburg and Reil,” Shutter said.

“Cecka played an awesome game all-around. Moegenburg played really well. Holzhaeuser played a pretty decent game.

“Kiela and Grapentine did a good job of handling their press,” said the coach.

Shutter thought the entire team played very well.

Hailey Edlebeck paced the Jaguars in scoring with 14.



Score by Quarters
Ashwaubenon..........9 11 16 15 – 51
Plymouth…............26 15 11 13 – 65

Ashwaubenon scoring: Hailey Edlebeck 14, Sam Crowley 13, Madison Manders 2, Alicia Guarascio 3, Annika Baeten 2, Claire Schaible 4, Lily Brown 3, Jenna McDonough 1, Neva Steingraber 9.

Plymouth scoring: Rachel Holzhaeuser 10, Rachael Cecka 16, Kaily Moegenburg 18, Nikki Reil 4, Marissa Grapentine 5, Mackenzie Haese 4, Sophia Kiela 7, Mckenna Nischke 1.

Three-point goals: Edlebeck 1, Crowley 1, Steingraber 2, Haese 1, Moegenburg 2, Cecka 1.

Field goals: Ashwaubenon 17- 41, 41%; Plymouth 22-54, 41%. Free throws: Ashwaubenon 13-23, 57%; Plymouth 17-35, 49%.

Rebounds: Ashwaubenon 25, Plymouth 44. Turnovers: Ashwaubenon 27, Plymouth 23.

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