East Troy girls beaten at the buzzer
GREEN BAY East Troy girls basketball coach Jeff Brown knows he might be second-guessing for a long time the biggest moment of his team's season.
With the Trojans tied with Kewaunee at 58 with 16 seconds left in the WIAA Division 3 state championship game on Saturday at the Resch Center, the Storm called a timeout to regroup for the final shot of regulation.
Brown thought about switching his team from its customary man-to-man defense to a zone. However, he decided to stick with his best defensive set.
East Troy almost forced a Kewaunee turnover with eight seconds remaining, but the Storm's Jill Kleiman drove the lane, saw teammate Alex Richard open under the basket, dished it off and Richard made a layup as time expired.
The basket on a busted play gave Kewaunee a 60-58 victory and back-to-back state titles.
"Time was running out, so I knew I had to make a move, so I did a move and once I saw Rich (Richard), I fired that ball," Kleiman said.
It was a heartbreaking loss for East Troy.
"I take all responsibility for this loss," Brown said. "It's not my players' loss, it's my loss."
Just two days after advancing to the state finals by beating Neillsville by draining 11 3-pointers, East Troy's offense switched from long bombs to slashing to the basket for easy looks. The switch in game-plan had a lot to do with Kewaunee playing man-to-man defense after Neillsville relied on a zone.
The Trojans were just 4-for-10 from beyond the arc in the title game.
"When we get man, we make sure we try to spread out our offense and then try to find gaps to drive, and I thought my kids did a really good job of that in the first half," Brown said. "In the second half, maybe fatigue hit a little bit and maybe they did a better job defensively."
The Trojans (26-2) got big games from stars Rachel Atchison, 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting, and Breanna Gaspervich, 13 points. Andrea Olsen and Alicia Oleson each added 10 points.
The final basket doesn't start to tell how things slipped away from the Trojans. East Troy had a 13-point first-quarter lead and an 11-point third-quarter lead before everything started to slip away.
Kewaunee (27-1) didn't take its first lead of the game until there was 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Kelsey Stangel, who scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, scored 13 points during a 21-8 run to put the Storm up 48-46.
East Troy never led again.
"I thought the tempo switched a little bit in the third quarter. They kept after us a little bit and we stopped driving to the basket," Brown said. "We had a couple turnovers late in the game, too, that really hurt us."
Coach Brown was emotional after the game after the gold ball was nearly in his team's grasp.
"The hardest part about this is I lose 10 great kids that I get to work with every day," said Brown, choking up. "I can't ask for better kids."
Trojans' Atchison, Gaspervich earn honors
East Troy High's Rachel Atchison and Breanna Gaspervich were voted to the WIAA state girls basketball all-tournament team by media covering the event.
Atchison sank a state-record six 3-point baskets and scored 19 points in the Trojans' 68-56 Division 3 semifinal victory over Neillsville. Gaspervich, who tied Rachel Slaney of Barneveld for the 10th and final spot on the team, added four 3s and finished 25 points.
Atchison scored 21 points, including three 3-point goals and Gaspervich added 13 points and one 3-pointer in East Troy's 60-58 loss to Kewaunee for the Division 3 state title last Saturday.
Kewaunee's Kelsey Stangel, who scored 27 points in the title game with East Troy, was named the tournament's MVP. Stangel scored 17 points in Kewaunee's semifinal win over Lodi.
WIAA all-state tournament team:
Kelsey Stangel, Kewaunee (MVP); Kennedy Blahnik, Algoma; Rachel Atchison, East Troy; Jenny Tuttle, Mukwonago; Alex Richard, Kewaunee; Amani Wilborn, Milwaukee Riverside; Breanna Lewis, Milwaukee Riverside; Gena Grundhoffer, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption; *Breanna Gaspervich, East Troy; *Rachel Slaney, Barneveld
* Tied for final spot