Then the Reedsburg Beavers snuffed the light and collected a 43-36 victory Saturday in a Division 2 WIAA girls basketball sectional final at Janesville Craig.
The victory put Reedsburg (23-3) in a girls state basketball quarterfinal against New London (26-0) at 1:35 p.m. Friday at the Kohl Center.
Whitewater concluded the season 23-3.
Trailing, 36-24, with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Whitewater launched a 12-0 run to tie the game with three minutes left.
“I didn’t think we would win by any means at that point,” Whitewater coach Judy Harms said. “I just knew we had the opportunity to win, and I thought we would play with more composure after that.”
Senior Molly Griep, who was held to one free throw through the first three quarters, sparked Whitewater with two baskets. Courtney Samuels added a three-point play and Brooke Trewyn sank three free throws and added a basket in Whitewater’s run.
But the Whippets missed five shots down the stretch, while the Beavers made 7 of 10 free throws to seal the victory.
“I thought we did a phenomenal job making a comeback,” Harms said. “Everything was in our favor, but we just couldn’t finish the shots.’’
Trewyn, the Whippets leading scorer, finished with 14 points, but was held to five points in the first half. Griep, Whitewater’s No. 2 scorer, went scoreless in the first half and finished with five points.
Reedsburg’s 6-foot junior Beth Maenpaa and 6-0 senior Sophie Lichte gave Whitewater all it could handle inside.
“We’ve played against big girls, like (Carly) Mohns out of Brodhead who was very good,” Harms said. “But we’ve never been up against a team with two (tall inside players) and I think that kind of played its role tonight. It took us out of our offense on the inside game.’’
Overall, the Whippets went 13 of 42 (30 percent) from the floor.
“We needed to hit a few more shots from the outside,” Harms said. “Unfortunately, a couple of our guards from the outside did not have a good game.’’
Trewyn knew the Whippets were going to have their hands full with Maenpaa and Lichte.
“I knew right away that they were tall, and it was going to hard to score in the lane,” Trewyn said. “I hit one shot and I thought I would be hot the rest of the game, but they really shut me down.’’
While Whitewater struggled for shots, the Beavers’ Carly Yager sank five of her team’s six three-pointers. Yager led all scorers with 17 points, while Maenpaa added 14.
“I’ve seen them on tape, and (Yager) is really hot or cold, and tonight she was hot,” Harms said.
The Whippets switched defenses in the fourth quarter to spread Reedsburg out, and it stopped the three-point barrage, but it was a case of too little, too late.
“We tried to do that sooner, but our kids just didn’t have the intensity,” Harms said. “So they finally picked up the intensity and starter picking them up higher, and once we threw on the press that brought intensity.
“We should have done that sooner, but we’re not typically a pressing team this year,” Harms added. “We delayed that too long.’’
Overall, Harms gave her praise after losing its top player, Julia Shelbourn, the first game of the season.
“It just wasn’t our time,” Harms said. “We had a great season and we can’t hang our heads after losing (Shelbourn). We had a great year.’’
REEDSBURG 43, WHITEWATER 36
Whitewater (36)—Masterson, 2-1-5; Trewyn, 5-3-14; Reynolds, 0-1-1; Griep, 2-1-5; Harty, 1-0-3; Samuels, 3-2-8. Totals: 13-8-36
Reedsburg (43)—Yager, 5-2-17; Maenpaa, 6-2-14; Schulenburg, 1-2-5; Lichte, 1-6-8. Totals: 13-12-43.
Whitewater 9 10 5 12—36
Reedsburg 7 12 13 11—43
Three-point goals—Whitewater 2 (Trewyn, Harty), Reedsburg 6 (Yager 5, Schulenburg). Free throws missed—Whitewater 8, Reedsburg 9. Total fouls—Whitewater 20, Reedsburg 15.