RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. — Jacy Weisbrod took the pass, quickly put her feet up, and fired a shot over the edge while being tightly guarded atop the key.
When he fell through the net, his Aquinas High School basketball team had cut an 18-point deficit to four, but there were just 28.7 seconds left in the Blugolds’ WIAA Division 4 semifinal. against Mineral Point, the highest ranked and undefeated.
The Pointers responded by hitting enough free throws and forcing turnovers on Aquin’s final two possessions to claim a 63-55 win on Thursday and qualify and move within a win of their second tournament. Consecutive state.
“I think we still have some left,” Weisbrod said of his team, which once trailed 42-24 and was 59-55 on the last 3-pointer of its career. “But it wasn’t enough to do it.”
The Blugolds (21-5) had a five-game state tournament streak after a night that included too many tough stretches, a defense that fell short of their own standards and too big a battle to put down. the ball in the hands of Weisbrod.
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That battle was started – and won – by Mineral Point seniors Ella Chambers and Blair Watters, who very rarely gave Weisbrod enough space to catch the ball, let alone shoot it.
Weisbrod, who entered the game averaging 21.6 points per game, had 13 points. But she only put up 10 shots – three in the first half – was never allowed to get into any rhythm.
“They’ve done a really good job of limiting his touches,” Aquin’s coach Dave Donarski said. “She actually did pretty well shooting three for four on 3 and five of her 10 shots. Some of them were really tough, but it was a struggle for us all night.”
But just when it looked like the Pointers were going to bury the Blugolds early, things changed.
Mallory Lindsey’s drive to the basket gave Mineral Point (27-0) a 42-24 lead with about 14 minutes remaining before Aquin scored all seven in a row and 13 of the next 16.
Lindsey, who is committed to play at UW-Oshkosh, scored a game-high 23 and hit six 3-pointers, including four after halftime.
Junior Macy Donarski, who played despite breaking his nose in four places last week and having surgery on Monday, scored six straight games – a three-point game followed by a 3-pointer – to bring Thomas from Aquin at 45-37 with 10:01 to play.
A Maddie Murphy 3-pointer had the Blugolds 47-41 with 8:32 on the clock, and a Weisbrod hoop made it 48-43 with 6:11 remaining.
But the Pointers, who beat Bangor before losing last year’s Division 4 championship game to Mishicot, continued to make enough plays to maintain a lead of at least two possessions.
Aquinas missed a golden chance when he trailed 57-52 and fouled Watters with 54.1 seconds left. She missed the free throw, but the ball bounced from a Mineral Point player’s hand onto an Aquin player’s hand and out of bounds on the rebound.
Had the Blugolds been able to grab that rebound, they would have had a chance to get closer to a possession.
Every missed chance was amplified by a terrible start to the second half.
Mineral Point held a 27-21 halftime lead and the Blugolds hit the ground ready to set a defensive tone. Dave Donarski was unhappy with the Pointers’ open exterior appearance and emphasized a better effort on the perimeter.
But Lindsey drained an open 3 on the first possession, and that was followed by Danica Silcox picking up her third foul, a turnover and another open 3 for Lindsey.
That turnover and the two at the end were just three out of a very unusual 17 for Aquinas.
“He was their best shooter, and they were wide open,” Dave Donarski said. “Then all of a sudden this game is, ‘Oh, boy.’
“We also talked about it, because we fought to get back to five (later in the game), and how big those shots were at the time. They were gigantic.”
Macy Donarski’s 17 points, six rebounds and four steals led the Blugolds, who also received eight points and 10 rebounds from Shea Bahr and 12 points on four 3-pointers from Murphy.
Weisbrod’s 13 points gave him 1,503 and three 3s 316 3s in his career, which will continue at Division I University of Northern Colorado next season. Weisbrod also had five rebounds against Mineral Point.
“We weren’t able to defend their guards the way we wanted,” Weisbrod said of the loss. “We did a decent job at the post, but Mallory hit six 3s, and you can’t have that.”
Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX