By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent

On paper, last week’s Division 2 sectional semifinal between the Wilmot girls basketball team and Milton looked about as even as it could be.

As it turned, that was the case on the floor as well.

Both teams slugged it out until the end, but Milton had a just a bit more left in its tank in a hard-fought 53-49 victory. The loss ended Wilmot’s season at 22-3 overall, while Milton followed the semifinal win with a victory in the sectional final two days later to advance to this weekend’s state tournament.

The Red Hawks, 19-7 overall, defeated Monona Grove Saturday 62-51 and will play at the Resch Center, Green Bay, later this week.

While the loss was tough to swallow, the Panthers certainly had a stellar 2012-2013 campaign, Wilmot coach Keiya Square said.

“It is hard to describe how proud I am of these girls,” he said. “Every day, they came to practice and games and gave it everything they had.”

The fourth quarter last week saw five ties, as each possession was hotly contested. Milton took the lead for good at 48-47 on a pair of free throws by standout Morgan Blumer with 35 seconds left.

After a timeout, Wilmot’s Jenna Damon drove into the lane for the potential game winner, but her shot was rejected by Milton’s Liz Westrick, who was fouled and made two free throws to extend the lead to 50-47.

Square was pleased with the look Damon had on the play.

“We were just looking to attack the basket and either get a layup or a kick out 3-(pointer),” he said. “Jenna did a nice job attacking the basket like we talked about, but unfortunately, she got blocked.”

Before Blumer’s two free throws with 35 seconds left, Wilmot took its final lead of the night on two free throws by Justine Schattner.

In the first half, it looked like Wilmot was in control, as it used a 9-0 run to build a 27-20 lead late in the second quarter. The Panthers held a 27-22 advantage at the intermission.

There was plenty to be happy about in the opening two quarters, Square said.

“Offensively, we were patient with our possessions,” he said. “We were doing a good job at running the counters within our system to get easy baskets.”

Milton tied the game after three quarters, however, as the Red Hawks enjoyed a 9-4 scoring advantage after halftime.

The Red Hawks packed in their defense and dared Wilmot to shoot from the outside – a strategy that worked, Square said.

“They were going to make us beat them shooting the ball,” he said. “We also missed a lot of shots around the basket that we normally convert.”

Kari Clements led Wilmot with 19 points, followed by Kaytlyn Eidson with 11 and Sarah Vozel with eight.

 

Seniors close careers

The loss ended the Wilmot playing careers of Jenna Venem, Vozel, Taylor Tenhagen and Eidson – and all put in a ton of work to elevate the program, Square said.

“This group of seniors brought hard work and dedication,” he said. “They were always in the gym working on their game.

“It is hard to win without great leadership, and that is what we got out of all four of our seniors. I knew in practice that they were going to work extremely hard, and the underclassmen were going to have to catch up.”

Vozel finished her Wilmot career fourth in scoring with 1,033 points, while Eidson was 11th with 785.

While it fell short of the ultimate goal of getting to state, the team’s 22 wins shows how far the program has come in a short time, Square said.

In 2009, Wilmot had just one victory, and in the current seniors’ first year in high school, the Panthers won seven.

“The program has come a long way, and I attribute it to the girls buying into what we are teaching them,” Square said. “Our style of play is not easy to do, and you have to be in good physical condition. The girls just went about their business.

“Any time you can get over 20 wins in a season, you are doing something right.”

 

 
 

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