Lakeside Lutheran used the final five minutes of the first half Thursday night to flash its depth and its defensive grit.
That stretch of play is the biggest reason the Warriors are one win away from playing at the WIAA state girls basketball tournament.
Third-seeded Lakeside forced seven turnovers and outscored top-seeded Walworth Big Foot 15-3 over the final five minutes heading into halftime. It was good enough for a 15-point lead, and the Warriors went on to beat the Chiefs 61-48 in a Division 3 sectional semifinal at Burlington High.
Lakeside (19-6) will face No. 1-seeded Marshall (24-1) in a sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sun Prairie.
“We didn’t handle the pressure the way we wanted to,” said Big Foot coach Rick Schoenbeck, referring to Lakeside’s full-court press that forced the majority of the Chiefs’ 14 first-half turnovers. “That’s the difference in the game, that (12-point) swing.”
Despite giving up a bevy of second-chance points to the Warriors early on, the Chiefs (19-6) trailed just 16-13 after senior guard Courtney Schoenbeck caught a pass on the press break and drove in for a layup with 5:45 remaining in the half.
Big Foot got just three free throws the rest of the half. Lakeside’s press caused five turnovers during an 8-0 run that put the Warriors up by double digits. And Kalies Birkholz hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the half that help Lakeside to a 31-16 lead at the break.
“We couldn’t get into our offense,” Rick Schoenbeck lamented, adding that the 16 points were probably a season-low for his team in one half. “Our shooting percentage was 28 (for the game), and we’re usually almost 40.”
Big Foot went just 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) from the field in the first half.
The Chiefs trailed by 19 points just over three minutes out of halftime and trailed 40-23 before Courtney Schoenbeck sprang to life and sparked a 9-0 run.
The University of South Dakota commit scored 24 of her game-high 28 points in the second half, including seven of the nine during that run. Her two free throws with 8:48 remaining made it 40-32.
But that was as close as the Chiefs could get.
They had a chance to get even closer but suffered from back-to-back turnovers, and Lakeside made back-to-back jumpers to quickly go back up by double digits.
“She (Courtney) put it on her back and tried to do the best she could,” Rick Schoenbeck said. “We started making some shots and got some stops on the other end. But then I think we threw it away twice.
“And against a good team at the end, they’re going to hit their free throws and it’s hard to come back.”
Lakeside Lutheran, which had six players score at least seven points, including Ashley Friztz with a dozen, is a win away from returning to state for the third time in program history and first since 2002.
Big Foot was playing at the sectional level for the first time in program history.
“We started as some young girls and older girls, with kind of a divide,” Rick Schoenbeck said. “I compliment all these kids, and the school, for helping do that, that we brought everyone together. We really, down the stretch, played great team ball.”
LAKESIDE 61, BIG FOOT 48
Lakeside (61)—Birkholz 2-3-9, Shadoski 3-3-9, Main 5-0-11, Fritz 3-5-12, Thiele 3-1-7, Murray 4-2-10, Birschbach 1-1-3. Totals: 21-15-61.
Big Foot (48)—Schoenbeck 9-6-28, R. Courier 2-4-8, Gonzalez 1-0-2, Demco 2-1-5, P. Courier 1-2-4, Lueck 0-1-1. Totals: 15-14-48.
Lakeside Lutheran 31 30—61
Walworth Big Foot 16 32—48
3-point goals—LL 4 (Birkholz 2, Main, Fritz), BF 4 (Schoenbeck 4). Free throws missed—LL 8, BF 11. Total fouls—LL 18, BF 22. Fouled out—R. Courier, P. Courier.