By Rich Palzewic
The Redbirds fell behind 13-0 to Kettle Moraine and could never recover in a 66-47 loss March 11 at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
The Redbirds (24-5) finally scored at the 10:11 mark of the first half on a McKenna Ciesielczyk 10-footer in the lane.
De Pere then scored five more quick points to make it 13-7 halfway through the half.
The Redbirds stayed close the rest of the half, trailing 28-23 at the break.
Butler University commit Jordan Meulemans had nine first-half points for De Pere, while Ciesielczyk added seven.
The Redbirds didn’t help their cause by committing 10 turnovers in the first 18 minutes of action, which led to 10 Kettle Moraine (26-3) points.
“We had a slow start,” De Pere Head Coach Jeremy Boileau said. “We dug ourselves an early hole, but I’m proud of the girls for fighting back and making it a game.”
During the 13-0 deficit to start the game, the Redbirds had seven missed shots and committed six turnovers.
The Lasers began the second half with a pair of 3-pointers to take a 34-23 lead.
The advantage eventually ballooned 41-26, prompting a timeout from Boileau.
Kettle Moraine kept the pressure on and built a 49-29 lead with 10:40 remaining.
“Some of our bad habits continued into the second half with our turnovers,” Boileau said. “Props to Kettle Moraine for disrupting the flow of our offense. We struggled to take care of the ball and with the flow of our offense. We kept trying to find the energy, but it was tough.”
Meulemans led De Pere with 20 points, while Ciesielczyk added 9.
“I was confident we could come back being down only five at the half,” Meulemans said. “In the second half, Kettle Moraine kept hitting its shots.”
This was the second trip to state for the Redbirds, who last went during Boileau’s first season on the sidelines.
“It was important for the six seniors to get to state,” Meulemans said. “We were seventh-graders in 2017. We watched them play and wanted to get here.”
Besides Meulemans and Ciesielczyk, Olivia Wall, Oakley Witteck, Lucy Meeuwsen and Avery Bierowski will be lost to graduation.