Monroe girls return to state
It didn’t matter that Monroe’s chance to repeat as a state champion rested on her shoulders on each and every one of her six trips to the line in a pressure-paced sectional final game.
Armstrong loved every second of it.
“This is what we live for, playing for it all,” said Armstrong after she led the Cheesemakers to a 40-34 victory over Southern Badger Conference rival Madison Edgewood in the championship game of the WIAA Division 1 Janesville Craig sectional.
Armstrong finished with a team-high 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
However, it was her 8-for-12 performance at the line in the final quarter that helped snap Edgewood’s 17-game winning streak and dash the Crusaders hopes of a first-ever trip to the WIAA state tournament.
“It was a gutty team effort, a real grinder,” Monroe coach Kevin Keen said. “It came down to key free throws down the stretch, we’ve been in that situation before.”
Edgewood senior guard Becky Gifford (20 points) sank 1 of 2 free throws to open the fourth quarter and snap a 25-25 tie for the Crusaders (21-4).
Armstrong, though, pulled Monroe (23-2) into a tie when she sank the second of two free throws following a rebound of her own missed shot. Armstrong pulled down another of-
fensive rebound on Monroe’s next possession, was fouled and sank two free throws to give the Cheesemakers a 28-26 lead they never lost.
“It was so close and within our reach, we wanted to go back,” Armstrong said of Monroe’s second straight trip to state, where it will meet Grafton, a 45-36 winner over Ripon in a state semifinal matchup Friday at 1:35 p.m.
“They have many more offensive players who can go one-on-one than we do. Everyone knows that were going to Kenzie and Giff,” Madison Edgewood coach Lora Staveness said of Kenzie Kolb and Becky Gifford. “(Emily) Rufenacht is an excellent defender and they’re bigger than us. So we just had trouble scoring. We did a good job keeping it within reach.”
Between Armstrong and junior guard Gwen Sutter, who finished with 12 points including 6-for-8 from the line in the fourth period, Monroe refused to be denied its third trip to state in fourth years.
“Certainly our experience didn’t hurt.” Keen said. “But three in four years and back-to-back trips, wow. That’s special.”
MONROE 40, EDGEWOOD 34
Edgewood (34)—Zimbrick, 0-2-2; Gifford, 7-5-20; Reese, 1-0-2; Kolb, 4-0-10. Totals: 12-7-34.
Monroe (40)—Sutter, 3-5-12; Rufenacht, 1-1-4; Kennison, 0-1-1; Sellnow, 1-2-4; Hermanson, 1-1-3; Armstrong, 2-9-13; Ritschard, 1-1-3. Totals: 9-20-40.
Edgewood 14 3 8 9—34
Monroe 7 10 8 15—40
Three-point goals—Edgewood 3 (Kolb 2, Gifford), Monroe 2 (Sutter, Rufenacht). Free throws missed—Edgewood 4, Monroe 14. Total fouls—Edgewood 23, Monroe 11. Fouled out—Reese, Kolb.