By Cole Walters and Brian Kalish
March 2, 2019
Wausau– The venue was different, the opposing team was different, but the result was the same.
The Newman Cardinals faced off against Wausaukee in the WIAA Division 5 sectional championship at Wausau East on Saturday and, much like their 2018 sectional final tilt against Gillett, Newman controlled the game throughout and coasted to a 49-37 victory setting up a return trip to state.
Who the Cardinals face in their state semifinal match up on Friday, March 8 at the Resch Center in Green Bay will be determined early this week as the final four are reseeded for the state tournament.
Whoever that opponent is, they will certainly have their hands full.
With the game over and fans jockeying for position to take photos, the sectional final championship plaque was raised at center court by Newman’s lone senior, Mackenzie Krach.
“This is truly an amazing experience to have a chance to close our season out in Green Bay,” said Krach. “We have been determined to get back to Green Bay, and our team has worked so hard to get this opportunity to go to state once again, so this is truly an amazing feeling.”
Wausaukee made the first shot of the game, but failed to find convert a field goal or free throw over the next nine minutes.
Newman took advantage, using a suffocating defense, and went up 29-16 at halftime.
“We played a little zone to start the game and the second half, and our press was able to stop the quick guards of Wausaukee,” said Newman head coach Jason Vanden Elzen. “Our offense is generated by our defense, and in the second half we were able to withstand a potential run from Wausaukee thanks to our defense.”
Wausaukee may have seen some film on Newman this week, but watching the Cardinals on tape and attempting to stop them face-to-face are two completely different things.
The Rangers experienced first hand the type of misery the Cardinals can cause opposing teams, both offensively and defensively. Couple aggression from the Cardinals with poor shooting– particularly in the first half– by Wausaukee, and it was simply too much for the Rangers to overcome.
“We couldn’t find the bottom of that cylinder up there,” Wausaukee coach Dave Messar said. “We’ve been in this position, but it’s hard when you don’t have a great game in a big game. That’s the way the ball bounces I guess… (It’s the) first time in our school history we’ve gotten this far, so the program is building and it’s in the right direction and I’d like to keep it going, and we’re going to fight our darndest to get back down here.”
Newman held Wausaukee to five points in the opening seven minutes of the second half.
Come the ten minute mark of the second half, junior guard Lauren Shields gave the Cardinals an 18 point lead at 39-21 with a corner three. The Cardinals got their biggest lead of the game at 24 with six minutes remaining, thanks to an and-one lay-up by junior guard Julia Seidel followed by a top-of-the-key three from junior Jadelyn Ganski.
With the Cardinals up 47-23, it was all but over for Wausaukee.
Shields, who scored a game-high 17 points, said that the team’s mindset going into the contest influenced the outcome as much as any individual single play on the court.
“I think we were confident that we could play our game,” Shields said. “If we stuck to playing our game, we would have good results. That’s what we did. We just went back to the fundamentals, the basics, and really it wasn’t working on our skills, it was wanting it. I think that’s what we focused on and it showed.”
“We will find out during the week on who we play Friday,” Said Vanden Elzen. “Hopefully we can get a 3 seed overall in State, but right now we will enjoy this moment today and then get back to work on Monday.”
The feeling of raising a sectional championship plaque is arguably among the best in high school sports. But the Cardinals have even loftier goals. And come Friday, they’ll have the opportunity to take the next step toward placing another, larger piece of hardware in the trophy case at Newman Catholic High School.
Wausaukee Scoring: Stephanie Murray 2, Madelyn Schlies 9, Courtney Messar 3, Emily Shaw 2, Kaelyn Schlies 6, Sierra Stehli 2, Allison Versaskas 4, Natalie Schroeder 9
Newman Scoring: Mackenzie Krach 4, Lauren Shields 17, Alex Frankel 5, Jadelyn Ganski 11, Julia Seidel 10, Lexi Huff 2