By Brian Kalish
January 15, 2019
Wausau– Forced to sit for much of the first half due to foul trouble, Newman senior Mackenzie Krach didn’t waste any time making her presence felt subsequent to intermission of the Cardinals’ tilt against Wausau East on Tuesday night.
Down 18-15, on the first possession of the second half, Krach aggressively chased down East’s point guard on defense and tied up the basketball, resulting in a jump ball. Newman gained possession as a result.
While easily overlooked by the casual observer, that play turned out to be a difference maker for the Cardinals. It set the tone in a second half that was dominated by the visiting team and helped propel the Cardinals to a 50-44 victory.
“Kenzie is our silent leader,” said Newman coach Jason Vanden Elzen. “She’s out there doing the stuff coaches love, but it’s tough because it’s either heart or all mental, but she’s got it. She knows how to win.”
The Cardinals desperately needed a spark to turn their fortunes around after a dismal first half that saw them score just 13 points.
And while Newman was its own worst enemy in the first half– while the final tally is anyone’s guess, the Cardinals probably had as many turnovers in the first half as they did points– Wausau East deserves a lot of credit for punching their cross-town rival in the mouth to start the game.
East was smart with their offensive possessions and disruptive enough on defense to frustrate a very talented Cardinals team.
The Lumberjacks took a 13-11 lead on a Gabby Braatz three pointer, then kept the pressure up moments later with a three pointer from Ana Freye.
With 46 seconds to go in the first half, East got a basket from Abby Thompson to take a 18-13 lead. A steal on the ensuing possession by Malaya Merriwether prevented Newman from drawing any closer before the buzzer sounded.
“We played with tremendous effort the whole game,” said Newman coach Jeff Waldvogel. “We confused them and got some steals.”
If the first half resembled a street fight in which Newman was out-muscled by the Lumberjacks, the second half was more of a track meet.
Newman’s signature full court press began to pay dividends, and the offense, benefitting from the quicker pace, began to find a rhythm.
In the blink of an eye, and with the outside sharpshooting of Jadelyn Ganski and Lauren Shields, Newman erased the three-point deficit and built a 44-32 lead with 6:30 to go.
“I think we realized that once we played fast, I think we were giving them a hard time,” said Newman’s Lauren Shields. “That always starts with our defense. We started getting good looks and playing more as a team.”
Shields and Ganski led the Cardinals with 16 points each.
With their backs against the wall, East did not give up.
Freye hit a three pointer at 2:33 to trim Newman’s lead to 46-39, and with a minute left, the Lumberjacks still had life down 48-41.
The Cardinals held on for the win, but both teams can take positives away from this contest.
“I love how hard they play,” said Waldvogel. “Early in the year we didn’t find open kids. We’re finding the spacing and getting the ball to the open shooter.”
“It feels good,” said Vanden Elzen. “You go out there and play a Divison 2 school, it helps out, especially with seeding. Not many Division 5 schools are playing Division 2 schools.”
Newman Scoring: Krach 6, Heinz 1, Shields 16, Zeimetz 1, Ganski 16, Seidel 8, Donath 2
East Scoring: Thompson 9, Braatz 8, Messman 4, Freye 9, Gilles 4, Boulanger 4, Merriwether 4, Kronberger 2