De Pere wins WIAA Division 1 state championship

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Associated Press
Sunday, March 25, 2012
— De Pere claimed a 60-57 victory Saturday and the WIAA Division 1 girls basketball state championship over Milwaukee King after a 3-pointer by King's Shakeela Fowler that would have forced overtime went in-and-out at the buzzer.

"We really focused on what we do well and the girls executed the game plan," De Pere coach Kelly McNiff said. "It got a little dicey there, but we're state champs."

The Redbirds (24-4) had to hold off a charge from the Generals over the game's final four minutes, including that last-gasp 3-pointer, to claim their second title since 2005.

"I use a lot of quotes with the girls," McNiff said. "The quote I used today was about fate and that fate gets you so far, but then you've kind of got to take it on your own and you've got to make something happen. And I think fate helped us out a little bit at the end. Thank goodness, since we were only up by three."

The miss was heartbreaking for King, which trimmed what had been a 10-point De Pere lead to two points on three instances over the game's final 43 seconds before Fowler's attempt to tie the game from long range.

"The play was, there was 3.5 seconds left, get it to your speedy point guard and get a shot up. She took the shot, (it) banked off, in and out," King coach Craig Machut said of the final sequence. "It was devastating."

For De Pere it was jubilation. The Redbirds closed the season with 20 straight victories after starting the year 4-4.

"In the back of our minds we always hoped for this," De Pere senior center Emma Konopasek said. "But when we were 4-4 we really had to take a look at ourselves and look at the way we were playing and ask ourselves, 'Will we be going to the state tournament if continue playing like this?'

"And the answer was obviously no. So it was really just a matter of stepping it up in practice, working on the little things little by little, keeping the intensity extremely high even when things aren't going our way. And I think that just really helped us carry our winning streak as far as it went."

Konopasek led De Pere with 21 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Morgan Anderson added 13 points for the Redbirds.

Senior guard Alexis Eckles scored 22 points and Avyanna Young added 13 to lead Milwaukee King, which finished the season 21-7.

Last updated: 7:53 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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