By Colton Westby
The Shiocton girls varsity basketball team traveled to Bonduel for their regional finals game on Monday, Feb. 25.
Skylor Bruns won the tip-off for Shiocton, though no points were earned in their first possession. Eventually, Cortny Leopold took control of the ball and shot up an early 3-pointer for the lead 3-0. The Bears, however, were able to catch up with their own 3-pointer by their own Breanna Schnell. With a tie game, Bonduel was able to take the lead at 5-3 before the Chiefs tied it up. The Chiefs took the lead after Megan Blohowiak was able to hit up a free shot. Bruns continued the lead after rebounding and returning the shot under the basket. Bruns was able to hit up another shot, taking the lead at 10-5. The Bears degraded the point deficit to just two points after they were able to make a successful 3-pointer.
Next up, Blohowiak passed it to Leopold, shooting up a 3-pointer. Bonduel was able to catch up to within a point after fouls committed by the Chiefs, taking the score to 13-12 Shiocton. The lead did not last too much longer for the Chiefs as Bonduel hit up a 3-pointer, taking the lead 15-13. The Bears were able to take the advantage by six points after dropping in four free shots. Cora Gassner shot up and made a two point shot in the paint. Larissa Young gripped the ball, passed it to Cora Gassner who took the deficit to just two points. With great defensive tactics against Bonduel, the Chiefs were able to come back and tie the game at 19-19 after free shots by Emily Korth. Bonduel pulled away at 21-19, but Erica Gassner was able to take the lead for Shiocton with a 3-pointer with about a minute left on the clock before halftime. The Chiefs fouled toward the end of the half, leading to Bonduel taking the lead at halftime 23-22.
Bruns was the first to score during the second half, but Shiocton’s temporary lead fell short after Bonduel hit up a 3-pointer. At 26-24 in favor of Bonduel, Leigha Young tied the game up at 26-26. Bonduel took advantage of a couple of free shots and Blohowiak did the same on Shiocton’s side. Bonduel was up by one point before Bruns was able to rebound a shot in the paint and return the shot up for the lead at 29-28. The Bears took the lead again with a 3-pointer. The Chiefs, continuing to fight for the lead, took the deficit to just one point after a free shot by Leigha Young. Bonduel was not missing the 3-pointers, hitting another one and taking the lead to 34-30. Blohowiak shot up a 3-pointer and fell just short, but Erica Gassner was there for the rebound, getting fouled while putting up the return shot. Gassner made one free shot, taking the Chiefs to 31 points. Erica Gassner was able to pull away with a basket after possessions by both Shiocton and Bonduel. At 34-33 Bonduel in the lead, the Bears obtained another hoop, taking their lead to 36-33. Bruns was cited with a charge prior to Bonduel dribbling down the court for a layup. Blohowiak came in with a 3-pointer, Shiocton now down by two points. Bruns, dribbling around Bonduel’s defense, obtained a layup and tied the game at 38-38. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, it would be the last basket of the night. Bonduel hit a 3-pointer, a shot under the basket, a layup, and four free shots before the final buzzer rang. Shiocton fell to the Bonduel Bears 49-38.
When asked what you would change about the season, Coach Rob Hendrickson replied, “This season was a challenging season, we dealt with many injuries, many missed practices and missed games due to weather, as well as a very tough schedule that had us play the majority of our games on the road.” He continued, “If I could change one thing about the season it would be the injuries. Playing roughly half the season with 2-5 injured girls was really tough. It is very difficult to be successful without your full complement of players in each and every game.”
That was a message that senior players Leigha Young and Rachel Maki echoed when asked the same question.
“I wish that we wouldn’t have had injuries on the team throughout the season, especially early on,” said senior Leigha Young. “I also really would have liked to finish my high school basketball career with four regional champs in a row, but I’m still extremely proud of the team and how far we made it.”
Though the season may be over, the memories of teamwork and courage will never fade.
“While our season record may not show it, I’d say our season went pretty well. We improved throughout the months and became a strong team that played well together,” said senior Maki. “I am so proud of how we beat St. Mary Catholic on their home court to move on to the regional championship, and I know that how we played in that game is a true indication of how hard work can pay off.” … “I’d say my favorite [memory] is when we went to St. Joseph’s in New London to spend time with the residents.”
Leigha Young added, “I would have to say my favorite memory of this season would be that we turned our season around by working really hard to secure the #5 seed, and along with that, beating St. Mary Catholic on their home court.”
While basketball is important to Young, playing with her younger sister and her best friends is what truly gave the experience meaning. “I think overall the season was so great, because I got to play with my younger sister Larissa and my best friend Sky, and just the fact that the whole team was super close and got along really well.”
As for Coach Hendrickson, he is looking forward to another great season next year. “Next year will be another year that a lot has to be figured out. Many kids graduating and a bunch of roles to fill at the varsity level. As always, we look to compete for a conference title and win a regional championship. Both of these are very difficult to do, but that is where we set our goals each and every year.”