Girls basketball: Panthers finish season at .500
The Oregon girls basketball team led Stoughton at the end of all but one quarter in a regular season sweep, but Friday’s 54-38 loss in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal was a different story.
Still, after trailing by 12 four minutes into the second quarter, a 10-2 run closed the gap to 18-14 two minutes later to give life to the Oregon bench.
It was as close as Oregon (12-12) would get, however, as Stoughton (14-10) closed the half on a 6-0 run.
“Every time we did seem to make a little stop defensively, we gave it right back to them,” Oregon head coach Les Luehring said. “Every time it looked we were going to make that little run, we turned the ball right back over to them and just never got any rhythm going offensively which was the big problem tonight.”
Junior forward Maddy Gits hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, making it 37-25. The two teams exchanged a few buckets until Stoughton senior guard Tessa Mersberger hit a 3-pointer of her own and added another basket to put Stoughton up 18.
One of Luehring’s keys to getting a win over Stoughton was limiting Mersberger and senior guard Megan Robson, but that didn’t happen.
Robson scored eight of her team-leading 15 points in the third quarter, while Mersberger finished with 11. Junior guard Patricia Dumas (10 points), junior guard Payton Gross (eight) and junior forward Maren Schultz (eight) also hurt Oregon.
“You can’t let Mersberger get open, and we lost her a few times and she made her shots,” Luehring said. “I just thought (Robson) outworked our inside people. She was aggressive. She got to the offensive boards, and she just outplayed us on the inside.”
Stoughton led 8-4 after the first quarter and built its lead to 10 in the second after 3-pointers by Mersberger and Dumas. Dumas added another basket before Oregon started its run.
Gits finished with 14 points, while senior guard Maranda Ricker closed her Oregon career with seven.
Seniors Aimee Urben, Klara Bulickova, Sidney Peach, Alexa Nelson and Ricker all graduate this year. Peach, Urben and Ricker were with the program all three years that Luehring coached, and he said they did everything they were asked to do to help rebuild the program.
“Just their work ethic and their leadership they showed, if people can follow that coming up, it will be helpful,” he said.
Oregon 57, Westosha Central 43
The No. 6 Oregon girls basketball team found itself in a battle with No. 11 Westosha Central Wednesday in the 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 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 Gits, who finished with four steals, Oregon forced 17 turnovers.
Luehring said that one by 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 their 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.”
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 finished the season 5-18.