Visiting Brookfield Central fought tooth and nail for 32 minutes but ultimately fell prey to a deep and deadly Rufus King team, 74-65, March 8 in the regional semifinals.
The game was an intense slugfest between two talented squads with vocal fan bases. The game featured pressure defenses, attacking offenses, stout battles in the paint, a flurry of fouls and regular floor burns.
"Credit Central for coming in prepared," King coach Craig Machut said. "They knew what we were going to do. They had us scouted really well.
"They handled our pressure. Our girls showed a lot of heart against a very tough, very smart team."
King controlled the action for most of the first half.
After Central jumped out to an 8-6 lead, the Generals went on a run of 11 unanswered points, stretching into the second quarter. They maintained the cushion for most of the quarter.
"They killed us on the boards and got into the lane way too easily," Central coach Dan Wandrey said. "The two things we knew we couldn't allow them to do, they did. But make no mistake - they're talented. They have scorers inside, a couple shooters, slashers, ballhandlers. We knew we'd have our hands full coming in."
In the second half, the Lancers scratched their way back.
Central cut the lead to five (39-34) early in the third quarter. A quick score to start the fourth brought the Lancers within one (53-52). They were within one again (58-57) halfway through the period.
"That stretch - we just couldn't get over the hump," said Wandrey. "I looked at my bench, and said, 'If we could just get a lead once, to see what they do.' And we never did."
Time and again, the Generals answered back. King's hawking full-court press produced steals and forced Central into 10-second backcourt violations. Central responded by tossing quick skip passes and throwing quarterback-bomb passes three-quarters of the way downcourt for easy layups.
"The pressure kind of got to us," Wandrey said. "It was totally physical, but our girls just stuck with it. We never quit."
Central senior forward Anna Liewen was a bulldog in the paint, finishing with 29 points, including three "and-ones." She also had 10 rebounds and three steals.
The Lancers, though, had no answer on defense for King's 6-foot-1 senior Avyanna Young.
The dominant post force consistently caught the ball deep, proving time and again to be too tall, too quick and too strong, finishing with 16 points.
"They're zone defense was a challenge," Young said. "We're not used to playing against that kind of zone. It took a while to break it.
"We had to swing the ball and play as a team. We kept our composure, didn't panic and stayed focused."
The two teams marched to the free throw line 49 times, and the fouls took their toll.
Liewen and junior forward Debbie Entzminger fouled out within 30 seconds of one another early in the fourth, and they were followed to the bench by sophomore guard Lydia Rohde (10 points) shortly thereafter.
Slowly, the Generals pulled away.
Freshman guard Shakeela Fowler (11 points, six assists) and senior guard Alexis Eckles (15 points, seven rebounds and three steals) contributed to the cause.
"We came to win, not get a moral victory. We were right there," Wandrey said. "But they're tough. I wouldn't be surprised to see them play another couple of weeks."
King went on to beat Milwaukee Vincent in overtime, 73-69, on Saturday to advance to the sectional round.
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