By Paul Lecker
For Wausau Pilot & Review
MARSHFIELD – The Wausau West girls basketball team are zeroing in on a Wisconsin Valley Conference championship, but needed every last point to defeat a pesky Marshfield squad on Tuesday at Marshfield High School.
The Tigers stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 5½ minutes to force overtime before West buckled down, forced four-straight turnovers, and went on to a 44-40 win.
Wausau West improves to 17-4 overall and remains undefeated in the WVC at 10-0, while Marshfield drops to 12-9 and 7-4 in the conference.
Marshfield started the game on an 8-1 run as West missed its first six shots.
The Warriors found their offensive rhythm the same time Marshfield lost theirs.
West ripped off 15 points in a row, which included a three-point play by Molly Anderson and 3-pointer by Audrey Danninger, holding Marshfield without a field goal for more than eight minutes.
A late basket by Raella Schueller brought Marshfield to within 20-14 at the break.
West pulled ahead by 13 after baskets from Danninger and Anderson before Marshfield started to chip away.
A rebound and basket by Schueller capped a mini 5-0 run to get the Tigers back to within single digits at 29-21.
Kelly Kray scored inside with 5:31 to go to give West a 35-27 lead before Marshfield buckled down.
Turning to a full-court press, the Tigers forced a three turnovers and were able to cut the deficit to 37-36 after two free throws by Abby Ongna and a basket by Dani Minsaas.
West’s Lexi White made one of two free throws with 46 seconds left before Ongna tied it with 31 seconds to go for the Tigers.
Each team turned the ball over giving West one final chance. White fell to the floor on a long inbounds pass and put up a shot from her knees that almost went in at the buzzer and the teams were off to overtime.
Marshfield’s improbable comeback was thwarted as it turned the ball over on four-straight possessions. White scored off an offensive rebound and the Warriors made four of six free throws in the closing minute to finish off the win.
Kenzie Deaton had 10 points, and Kray finished with nine points and 15 rebounds for West.
Minsaas led Marshfield with 12 points and seven rebounds.
West hosts Stevens Point on Friday and will clinch no worse than a share of the conference title with a victory. The Warriors finish their season next week with a home nonconference game against Appleton West on Feb. 15 and the WVC finale on Feb. 17 at Wisconsin Rapids, which remains one game behind West in the conference standings.
Marshfield has one game remaining on its regular-season schedule, a game at Stevens Point on Feb. 17.
WIAA postseason pairings will be released Sunday with regional play starting Feb. 22.
Warriors 44, Tigers 40 (OT)
Wausau West 20 18 6 – 44
Marshfield 14 24 2 – 40
WAUSAU WEST (44): Kelly Krau 4-11 1-2 9, Kenzie Deaton 5-12 0-1 10, Audrey Danninger 2-11 2-5 7, Desirae Rausch 1-3 0-0 2, Lexi White 2-13 4-6 8, Molly Anderson 2-8 4-5 8. FG: 16-48. FT: 11-19. 3-pointers: 1-9 (Danninger 1-7, White 0-2). Rebounds: 40 (Kray 15). Turnovers: 21. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. Record: 17-4, 10-0 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
MARSHFIELD (40): Zaida Kolbeck 1-5 2-4 4, Dani Minsaas 5-14 1-2 12, Abby Ongna 2-7 4-8 8, Raella Schueller 3-6 0-0 6, Ashley Grancorvitz 1-5 0-0 2, Loryn Jakobi 1-2 4-4 6, Ayana Bousum 1-8 0-0 2, Cami Wucherpfennig 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 14-47. FT: 11-18. 3-pointers: 1-13 (Minsaas 1-7, Schueller 0-1, Kolbeck 0-1, Bousum 0-4). Rebounds: 36 (Minsaas 7, Ongna 7). Turnovers: 26. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Minsaas. Record: 12-9, 7-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference.