Rachel Brown delivers a title for St. Mary Central
Senior guard Rachel Brown scored 20 points to propel St. Mary Central of Menasha to a 45-42 victory over Potosi for the girls WIAA Division 4 states basketball championship here Saturday.
Brown scored 11 of the Zephyrs’ final 13 points to give Central (23-4) its first WIAA gold ball. The team was making its second straight state appearance being the runner-up to Flambeau in 2008.
Brown made four critical free throws with 53 seconds remaining, and was 12-for-14 from the foul line overall.
In a relentless pursuit to swing momentum its way, Potosi (24-2) posed several challenges in the closing minutes. The Chieftains chipped away at Central’s lead and pulled within at 41-40 as Therisa Elskamp made a three-pointer with 1:10 to go.
As time wound down in regulation the Chieftains were looking to tie the game, but senior forward Alison Tobin’s three-point attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.
Central coach Jeff Chew relied on a group of four senior starters, who stepped up when they were needed most. Besides 20 points in 23 minutes of action from Brown, Schaffer scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half. The senior guard also grabbed nine rebounds.
“I have a great bunch of seniors that did what they needed to do,” Chew said. “We’re a team and I think it’s really important they do the job that they do, or we wouldn’t have won the state title.”
Meanwhile, as Potosi suffered a scoring drought late in the first quarter and early in the second, Central pushed its lead to 10 points with a 9-0 run. Brittany Schaffer made two free throws to complete a surge that gave Central a 16-6 lead with 6:56 left in the first half.
Though Central had a 22-13 lead into the halftime break, Potosi used a 10-3 run to stay close in the third quarter. Senior guard Morgan Lass scored five points, including a three-pointer with 3:38 left in the third to trim Central’s lead to 26-23.
The Chieftains failed to capitalize on many chances, missing a slew of easy baskets and free throws at critical junctures of the game. Potosi was 11-for-21 from the foul line.
Coach Darby Blakley said those miscues made the difference, especially late in the game.
“Some of the shots that we hit earlier this season and earlier in the tournament, we couldn’t get to hit,” Blakley said. “Our defense kept us in it and I thought we could fight back.
“It was one of those things where shots didn’t fall. And you have to make free throws in the state tournament.”
Elskamp, a senior guard, scored a team-high 18 points and had nine steals, eight rebounds and five assists for Potosi in its second trip to the state tournament.