Girls basketball: Panthers hold off Westosha Central, advance to regional semifinals

Anthony Iozzo

Junior forward Maddy Gits fights for a rebound Wednesday against No. 11-seeded Westosha Central in the WIAA Divison 2 regional quarterfinals. The No. 6-seeded Panthers won 57-43 to advance to the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at No. 3-seeded Stoughton. [Photo by Anthony Iozzo]

Despite leading the entire game, the No. 6 Oregon girls basketball team found itself in a battle with No. 11 Westosha Central Wednesday in the WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal.

With the Panthers up three with a minute-and-a-half to play in the third quarter, sophomore Riley Rosemeyer powered her way to a 3-point play 15 seconds later to stretch the lead back to six.

She later picked off a pass and came back on the other end to put back a second-chance opportunity as the Panthers went on to rout the Falcons 57-43.

“We knew we wanted it more and knew we wanted to go on so it was about staying focused, getting our back to together and taking care of the ball – going back to basics with how we started,” Rosemeyer said.

Defense, such as the Rosemeyer steal, became a key with the Panthers’ offense held to 20 of 62 field goals (32.3 percent). Led by junior forward Maddy Gits, who finished with four steals, Oregon (12-11) forced 17 turnovers.

Oregon head coach Les Luehring said that one by senior guard Aimee Urben in the third quarter was a big one because he told the girls in the timeout that they “needed to make a statement.”

“Offensively, sometimes we go into lulls, and we have to have our defense carry us,” Luehring said. “During that stretch, it did.”

Oregon led by 13 points at the half, but the momentum turned to Westosha Central.

Junior center Megan Ziesmann scored a basket with a foul and, despite missing the free throw, made it an eight-point game.

After a couple of 3-pointers by Falcons’ junior forward Aliyha Willis made it 39-33, Ziesmann had a chance for another 3-point play, this time connecting with the free throw to make it 39-36.

In the fourth, the Panthers held Westosha Central to just five points and built its lead back to 13, which is how the game ended.

“We talked about, on the offensive end, not being in a rush,” Luehring said. “We had enough points. It was just about managing the clock, stepping up to the free-throw line and knocking them down.”

The Panthers started the game on an 11-2 run before the Falcons battled back to within three after a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Jaela McGill.

Willis started the second quarter with a 3-pointer to cut Oregon’s lead to 13-11, but the Panthers responded with a 10-0 run to build a 12-point lead.

Rosemeyer finished with 13 points, including nine in the third, and 12 rebounds.

Gits led all scorers with 17 points and added 18 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass.

“When you control the boards and control the offensive and defensive rebounds, that is the game,” Rosemeyer said. “Once we started to box out, get our rebounds and take our time, that is when the game was pretty much over.”

Senior guard Miranda Ricker and freshman guard Cassidy Nikolai chipped in eight and six points, respectively.

For Westosha, Willis finished with 11 points, while McGill and Ziesmann picked up nine each. Sophomore center Danielle Tesar added eight. Westosha Central finishes the season 5-18.

With the win, Oregon moved on to the regional semifinal and will play at 7 p.m. Friday at No. 3 Stoughton.

Despite playing well against Stoughton this season, Luehring said that the tournament is different because no one wants to go home.

Rosemeyer added that it didn’t matter that the Panthers defeated the Vikings by 22 points in the last game.

“I am not going to take them for granted even though we beat them by 22 points. It is a new season, and everyone is a new team,” Rosemeyer said. “(Westosha Central) didn’t have the best record, but they came out and played hard. We just have to play harder.”

Senior guards Tessa Mersberger (257 points) and Megan Robson (189) lead the Vikings (13-9) offense this season, and Luehring said it is essential that the Panthers contain those two players.

“That has been our focal point going into both games against (Stoughton) this season – not letting Mersberger get open and hit some threes,” he said.  “Robson and (Maren) Schultz do a nice job on the boards, so we have to stay strong in there too.

“Both teams are trying to prove something. Both teams are tired of losing and trying to win. … I think it is going to be a pretty intense game.”

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