De Pere pulls away from Pulaski in second half
By Josh Staloch
DE PERE – In front of a sparse, yet loud crowd, the De Pere girls’ basketball team withstood a strong attack from Pulaski – especially in the early minutes – in posting a 62-46 victory in a WIAA Division 1 regional final game Feb. 13 at De Pere High School.
With those in attendance required to wear masks, Jordan Meulemans scored De Pere’s (23-3) first six points of the game on two 3-pointers.
The 6-foot junior, a Division I recruit, played lights-out early on, whether it be from beyond the arc or driving the lane and working the post.
Meulemans had 10 points before the first 10 minutes of play had elapsed, on her way to a game-high 27.
“Pulaski can slow things down and make you work on defense,” said De Pere head coach Jeremy Boileau. “They’re also able to play good defense. We knew we’d get their best effort and it would be a tight game. It was good to see our team find its toughness in the second half.”
The Red Raiders also have weapons of their own, and they were firing on all cylinders early to match De Pere’s intensity.
Pulaski (14-8) was able to trade buckets with the Redbirds and found itself within striking distance late in the first half, down 24-21.
Pulaski’s Sheridan Flauger delivered, bouncing around the three-point line as the clock ticked off its final seconds before the break.
Flauger, a Division II commit to UW-Parkside, waited patiently, and when she had gained a step on her defender, she nailed a 3-pointer to even the score at halftime, 24-24.
“Early in the game, every time De Pere threw a punch, we responded,” said Pulaski head coach Doug McElrone. “For a while, we were the ones throwing the first punch. It says lots about our kids. They’ve been put through the wringer all season. We started 3-5 and went on to have one of Pulaski’s only 10-game win streaks. There’s a ton to be proud of.”
It was more of the same to begin the second half, as neither team could gain more than a two- or three-point lead.
The Redbirds, looking to expand on a 41-39 edge provided by a pair of Meulemans free throws, then took control of the game for good.
A Pulaski turnover turned into a hard-fought two points from 5-foot-7 freshman guard Claire Bjorge, who ended with 16 points.
A Red Raiders turnover equaled another gritty drive into the paint for two from Bjorge, who shortly after, went full court to the bucket for a layup that put her team up 49-39.
“There aren’t many girls who can make all-conference coming off the bench,” Boileau said about Bjorge. “She knows how to find ways to have an impact on the game. I think she’s a special player.”
Bjorge was recently named to the Fox River Classic Conference second team.
The outburst from Bjorge essentially put the game away, as Pulaski scored only seven points over the game’s final six and a half minutes.
Ashlyn Szymanski led the Red Raiders with 20 points, while Flauger added 12.