With seven seconds left on the clock and the game tied at 46, the plan was to get the ball to the junior guard and let her shoot away.
“We set that up for her,” said sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong. “In practice, when we were just shooting around, she had been hitting them, so we wanted to get the ball to her.”
And putting the ball in the hands of a shooter who had not attempted a three pointer all game in the last seconds may have caught the Comets somewhat off guard.
“We were prepared, but didn’t think they were going to go for a three,” said Delavan-Darien coach Keiya Square. “At the time I thought they were going to work it inside, but they shot it and it went in.”
With Rufenacht’s final three, the Cheesemakers slipped past Delavan-Darien 49-46 to win the WIAA Division 2 sectional title at Janesville Craig High School and advance to the state tournament. Monroe (20-5) will face Altoona at 3:15 p.m. this Friday in the Alliant Energy Center. Delavan-Darien ends its season at 22-2.
In a game that featured 12 lead changes, the largest advantage either team had was Monroe’s 6-0 run to start the game. Only three times in the game did one of the two teams have a lead of more than three points.
“Besides the game against Elkhorn, this was the only team that matched up with us well,” said Square. “I told the team in practice, they are us.”
When Morgan Kennison hit two free throws with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter to put Monroe up 45-40, the game looked to be over.
But that cushion was short-lived.
Delavan-Darien freshman Alana Cesarz responded six seconds later with a jumper to bring the score back within three. And then Hannah Nieuwenhuis hit another bucket from right under the basket off a steal from Mallory Epping to bring the score to 45-44 with a minute left in the game.
Monroe’s Gwen Sutter hit a single free throw and then Epping hit a lay up to set up the 46-46 tie.
MONROE 49, DELAVAN-DARIEN 46
Delavan-Darien (46)— Supernaw, 5-0-11; Nieuwenhuis, 1-0-2; Collins, 1-0-2; Flood, 4-0-8; Cesarz, 5-2-12; Epping, 4-3-11. Totals: 20-5-46.
Monroe (49)— Sutter, 5-1-13; Rufenacht, 1-1-4; Kennison, 1-2-4; Seilnow, 4-0-8; Hermanson, 3-1-7; Armstrong, 4-4-13. Totals: 18-9-49.
Delavan-Darien 8 10 15 13—46
Monroe 11 6 18 14—49
Three-point goals—Delavan-Darien 1 (Supernaw), Monroe 4 (Armstrong, Sutter 2, Rufenacht). Free throws missed—Delavan-Darien 2, Monroe 3.
Total fouls—Delavan-Darien 16, Monroe 11.