New London wins 2nd consecutive D2 championship
Tara Knapstein scored 12 points and Emily Steffanus added nine points to lead New London to its second consecutive WIAA Division 2 girls basketball state championship with a 43-39 victory over New Berlin Eisenhower on Saturday.
"Coming into this game, everyone was waiting to get that perfect game from both perfect teams," Knapstein said. "It just feels even better to come out on top undefeated, over the other undefeated team."
A furious finish highlighted a tightly contested game between schools that had combined to win that previous two Division 2 titles.
But it was the Bulldogs (28-0) who were able to prevail thanks to a productive final minute.
After a 3-pointer by Eisenhower's Nicole Bauman tied the game at 37-37 with 1:26 to play — and following a New London timeout — the Bulldogs pulled ahead for good on a layup from Knapstein with 42 seconds to play. The score came via a perfect feed from senior guard Bridget Pethke.
Pethke then came up with a steal for New London, and Steffanus found herself at the free throw line with 20.5 seconds to play. After making the first free throw, Steffanus missed the second but grabbed her own miss, eventually forcing Eisenhower to foul.
Senior guard Morgan Steinert made a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to put the Bulldogs ahead 42-37. A basket by Bauman made it 42-39 with four seconds left before Pethke split a pair of free throws.
"We got in that final minute, tie game, and we took that timeout and we just talked about relaxing, finding a good shot that you can get," New London coach Troy Krause said. "We were able to get that good shot and we made some free throws down the stretch."
Bauman scored 14 points and Katie Lang and Jenny Weiland scored eight points apiece to lead New Berlin Eisenhower, which finished the season 27-1.
"Everyone was looking for a good game. I think we all got that tonight," Eisenhower coach Gary Schmidt said. "I thought we played well. This was a game of bounces, and a couple bounces didn't go our way today. ... We just came up a little short tonight."