Defense sparks Tigers to sectional finals

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


SAM YANCY of Howards Grove tries to shoot over Emily Mueller of St. Mary’s Springs in Friday’s sectional basketball semifinals. – Photo by Terry Schaller SAM YANCY of Howards Grove tries to shoot over Emily Mueller of St. Mary’s Springs in Friday’s sectional basketball semifinals. – Photo by Terry Schaller WEST BEND – The Howards Grove Tigers’ defense clamped down in the second half to key a 48-41 comeback win over Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs in a Division 4 girls sectional basketball semifinal battle here Thursday night.

HG switched to a zone defense in the second half and did an outstanding job of shutting down the Ledgers’ inside attack. The No. 2-seeded Tigers outscored No. 5-seeded Springs 30-14 in the second half to erase a 27-18 halftime deficit.

The Tigers, 24-1, have won 23 in a row. HG is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press D-4 poll. The Ledgers finished 18-7.

Senior forward Addi Gerber’s hit a 15-footer to give HG the lead for good, 40-39, with 3:30 left. After a defensive stop, the Tigers upped their lead to 43-39 when senior guard Brittany Schaller drained a three-pointer at the 2:40 mark.


BRITTANY SCHALLER of Howards Grove drives to the hoop against Emily Mueller (left) and Emily McGovern of St. Mary’s Springs in Friday’s sectional basketball semifinals. – Photo by Terry Schaller BRITTANY SCHALLER of Howards Grove drives to the hoop against Emily Mueller (left) and Emily McGovern of St. Mary’s Springs in Friday’s sectional basketball semifinals. – Photo by Terry Schaller Anja Smith’s two free throws pulled the Ledgers to within 43-41 with 2:25 remaining.

The Tigers had turnovers on their next two possessions but Springs wasn’t able to take advantage. Senior forward Sam Yancy sank a free throw with 47 seconds showing which gave HG a 44-41 advantage.

On the Ledgers’ next possession Tiger senior guard Kailtynn Near stole the ball and Schaller was fouled with 26 seconds left. Schaller missed the front end of a one and one but Yancy grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

Yancy made both free throws to give her team a 46- 41 lead with 24 seconds left.

Near’s two free throws with 11 seconds left sealed the victory as it put the Tigers up 48-41.

The Tigers’ swarming defense held Springs without a field goal over the final 6:50.

“They had us in the first half. At halftime we thought to ourselves that we’ve been working hard all week and there’s no reason why we can’t go out there and put everything we worked for onto the court,” said Yancy.

“We just had to play our game in the second half and we knew that, and we went out and did it. I was confident we could come back.

“Once we started driving and cutting to the basket it really drove us to starting to catch up. In the first half we forced shots and were more rushed. It definitely opened things up [on offense], once we were more patient,” said Yancy.

Yancy said her team’s help side defense really helped against the Ledgers’ two big forwards, Smith (5-feet-11) and Emily Mueller (6-2).

Smith sparked the Ledgers to their nine-point halftime lead with 14 points, including three treys. She was held to only seven points in the second half as she finished with a team-high 21 for the night.

Yancy powered the Tigers’ attack with 23 points, including a team-best 14 in the second half. She scored most of her baskets on quick, aggressive drives to the hoop. Schaller chipped in with 11 points, including three triples.

The Ledgers were only 4-for-22 (18 percent) from the field in the second while the Tigers shot an excellent 11- for-20 (55 percent).

HG was only 6-for-21 from the field in the first half, compared with Springs’ 11-for-28 (39 percent).

“I’m very proud of the team,” said Geber. “We were definitely tight at the beginning but we pushed through.”

Yancy also led HG in rebounds with nine. Schaller had a team-high four assists. Ashley Reinemann led in steals with four and Olivia Stauss made three.

“In the second half we said to just relax and move the ball around. It’s like any zone you’ve seen. Move the ball, move the ball and once we did we settled down,” said Tiger head coach Heidi Georgeff.

“They [Ledgers] played a heck of a game. We played enough good minutes and hung on. We’re a balanced team and we just have to stick to that.

“We switched to a zone and it seemed to slow them down and force them to shoot more outside shots,” said Georgeff.

Tristan Scholler paced the Ledgers in steals with three. Sydney Lavey had a teamhigh three assists.


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