De Pere girls lose tight game in Hortonville
By Greg Seubert
Special to The Press Times
Contributions from Rich Palzewic (Sports Editor)
HORTONVILLE – Two more wins.
That’s what stood in the way of the De Pere girls’ basketball team and its first trip to state since 2017.
However, Hortonville had other ideas, as it ended the Redbirds’ season Feb. 18 with a 45-43 loss in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game at Hortonville High School.
The Redbirds ended their season at 23-4, while Hortonville improved to 17-8.
The Polar Bears will face undefeated Hudson in a sectional final game Saturday, Feb. 20.
“Hortonville is a deep, young team, and every girl can get to the rim and shoot,” said De Pere head coach Jeremy Boileau. “We knew we had to play great defense, and we did. Hortonville hadn’t scored as little as 45 points in a game this season, so we executed our game plan. Overall, I’m proud of the girls and our effort.”
The lead changed hands four times before the Polar Bears used an 8-3 run to take a seven-point lead late in the first half.
McKenna Ciesielczyk added a basket before the buzzer, and De Pere trailed 26-21 at the break.
Consecutive baskets from Sophia McCarty cut the Polar Bears’ lead to 29-27, but Hortonville responded with a 10-0 run to take its biggest lead – 39-27 – with under 12 minutes remaining.
The Redbirds answered with a 14-3 run, and Jordan Meulemans’ 3-pointer cut the home team’s lead to 42-41.
De Pere later trimmed the lead to one point on a pair of McCarty free throws, but the Redbirds never went ahead.
Trinity Mocadlo hit one of two free throws to give Hortonville a 45-43 advantage with 18 seconds remaining.
De Pere took a timeout to set up a tying or winning shot, but Hortonville’s defense kept Ciesielczyk from getting a quality shot off in the paint, and the Polar Bears grabbed the loose ball as time expired.
Meulemans led all scorers with 19 points but was the only De Pere player to finish in double figures.
Boileau said Hortonville brought lots of defensive pressure, but the Redbirds handled it well.
“We only had nine turnovers,” he said. “We had good opportunities to get to the rim, but we couldn’t finish some of those buckets. We were down 12 in the second half but gave ourselves a chance to win.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a monkey wrench into the season, Boileau said he was grateful his team got to play a full schedule.
“It was a season of survival, and we had no control over COVID-19,” he said. “We were allowed 24 regular-season games in three weeks less time. It was a season like no other.”
The future appears to be bright for De Pere, which loses only two seniors – McCarty and Lexi Lipsh – from this year’s roster and will return more than 50 points per game next season, including Division I recruit Meulemans.
“We know we had a great opportunity this season, but we have lots of underclassmen back next year,” said Boileau. “Replacing McCarty in the post will be tough, but we have something good rolling.”
Editor’s note: Greg Seubert is the sports editor of Multi Media Channels publications Waupaca County Post, New London Press Star and Clintonville Tribune-Gazette.