By Cole Walters and Brian Kalish
March 8, 2019
Green Bay– The Wausau Newman Fighting Cardinals took on the undefeated Clayton Bears in a state semifinal matchup on Friday morning. In a game that saw the Cardinals lead for 31 minutes– and as many as 12 points with 12 minutes to go– the Cardinals saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion with a 45-37 defeat.
The Cardinals opened the first half shooting 52.6% from the field, including knocking down 4-9 from three-point range.
Junior guard Julia Seidel led the way for the Cardinals by shooting 5-5 from the field and leading all scorers with 16 points entering the half.
In fact, Seidel single-handedly scored as many points as the entire Clayton team in the first half.
Seidel led all scorers with 22 points in the game.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ defense held the Bears offense to 6-19 shooting, and only 2-6 from three-point range as the Cardinals took a 26-16 lead into halftime.
“We were able to lead for most of the first half, and our defense was forcing Clayton into tough shots to begin the game” said Newman coach Jason Vanden Elzen. “Seidel was hitting her open shots, and Kenzie Krach was getting crucial rebounds for us to gain a 10 point advantage at halftime.”
The Cardinals went on to stretch their lead to 35-23 with 12:16 remaining in the game, as Seidel drove the lane and hit the lay-up and would get fouled on the play. Seidel converted the free throw to give the Cardinals a 12-point advantage.
Credit the Bears with staying within striking distance and not letting the lead swell any further.
Clayton pulled to within five points at the 6:50 mark, but Seidel would once again hit a driving lay-up to put the Cardinals up seven with 6:27 remaining.
Unfortunately, that would be the final basket for the Cardinals.
The Bears’ offense woke up from hibernation and made a furious run at the Cardinals.
Clayton senior forward Alison Leslie hit a driving lay up off a pick and roll to pull the Bears to within 37-34 at 4:35. After a Newman missed lay up, Leslie went on to hit an open three from the wing to tie things up.
Leslie scored 18 points to lead the Bears. Kennedy Patrick and Kailey Ketz each scored in double figures. Patrick had 11 points and Ketz hit for 12.
The Bears took their first lead of the game at 39-37 when Ketz hit an open jumper from the corner.
The Cardinals had a chance to tie the game with under a minute to go in the game, but Clayton stole the ball after a drive by junior guard Lauren Shields.
Clayton then went on to go 6-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal a 45-37 victory.
“Today’s game was a tale of two halves,” said Newman coach Jason. “First half we were in complete control, and second half we knew Clayton would make their come back, but we couldn’t handle the pressure from Clayton and the 18 turnovers killed us down the stretch.”
“These group of kids deserve a lot of credit,” said Kevin Fall, the head coach of the Clayton Bears. “The first half didn’t look good, they challenged our defense and Newman was dominating the first half. The second half we got better looks from the outside. We got the ball inside more, and we were moving the ball a lot better in the second half. Our defense closed out on Newman’s shooters in the second half, which helped us pull off the victory today.”
Wausau Newman finishes their season at 24-4 overall, and will four of five starters next season.
But the Cardinals lose one major contributor: senior Kenzie Krach. Krach’s defense and her ability to corral both offensive and defensive rebounds will be difficult to replace.
Yet there are plenty of reasons for Cardinals’ fans to be optimistic looking toward the 2019-20 campaign.
Newman Scoring: Krach 4, Heinz 9, Shields 2, Seidel 22
Clayton Scoring: Leslie 18, Patrick 11, Fall 2, Bussewitz 2, Ketz 12