A dominant post game combined with a stingy defense is often a recipe for victory come tournament time.
The New Berlin West girls’ basketball team showcased both in a dominant 52-36 WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal win over Union Grove on March 9.
Six-foot forwards Becca Gasper and Beth VerHaagh were especially sharp in the paint for the third-seeded Vikings.
The duo combined for 29 points and Gasper, who finished with game high 18, drew the praise of head coach Corey Scheel.
“Becca played phenomenal,” he said. “She was using her body and has been getting so much better at that, knowing when to seal and recognizing. It has been phenomenal.”
After the sixth-seeded Broncos played West (17-6) to an 8-8 tie after one quarter, Gasper ignited the interior offense and the host Vikings started to pull away.
The senior put West ahead for good at 10-8 to start the second quarter with a layup and at the 4:20 mark finished a fast break to give the Vikings their first double-digit lead at 21-11.
Gasper capped an 11-3 run into halftime with another inside bucket off an assist from guard Shannon Burke.She hit a free throw to complete the three-point play and gave the Vikings a comfortable 28-14 lead.
“I was working on sealing off this week and just was able to get open,” Gasper said. “Our guards were able to get the ball inside a lot and I was able to finish most of them.”
While West was having its way in the paint, the sixth-seeded Broncos struggled to find their shot.
After junior Katie Wendorf hit a three-pointer with 4:10 in the second quarter to cut the lead to 21-14, the team went the next six-minutes without scoring.
During the drought that extended into the third quarter, West extended its lead to 31-16.
“We were stuck on the perimeter,” Broncos coach Rob Domagalski said. “And I just think that West was a little more physical and just had a little more size than us.”
Union Grove (13-10) sank just three of 18 three-point attempts, although Scheel said he knew the game could have had a different outcome had the Bronco shooters been on target.
“We knew what we had to do, take away their threes, because they are a big three-point shooting team,” he said. “They want to beat you off the dribble and our quickness up top was the big thing that helped."
A 7-0 run by the Broncos late in the third quarter closed the gap to 35-21, but a 10-0 West run into the final period, capped by Gasper’s final bucket, put the game out of reach.
“I felt like tonight I was able to maneuver more “and get my shot up without it being blocked," Gasper said.
Senior guard Alyssa Acker paced Union Grove with 11 points, including 7 of 11 from the free-throw line, and senior Megan Lee added 10 points.
The win propelled the Vikings into the regional final for the time in two years, and the team avoided having to play second-seeded Pewaukee. The Pirates, who won the Woodland Blue Conference by one game over West, fell to seventh-seeded Catholic Memorial, 56-48 in their regional semifinal.
Both Scheel and Gasper acknowledged they were pleasantly surprised by the result and looked forward to playing in front of their home fans one more time.
“I was not expecting that,” Gasper said, “but I am really excited to play CMH in our own gym and hopefully, win the regional.”
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