That was story Saturday night at New Berlin Eisenhower as the senior star played the final home game of her amazing prep career. From a special mention during the starting lineups to a custom banner presented to her after the win, Bauman was the center of attention for the still-undefeated Lions.
By defeating the Cudahy, 54-36, New Berlin Eisenhower earned yet another regional championship, stayed undefeated and moved on to play crosstown foe New Berlin West in next Thursday's sectional semifinal. Bauman shared the game high scoring honors with junior Jenny Weiland, each with 19 points. However, the points by Bauman were more significant, not in the outcome of the game but in the fact that she became the school’s all-time leading scorer.
As if the night couldn’t get any better for Bauman, she was surprised with news after the game that she had been named the 2012 ESPN Wisconsin State Player of the Year. She was joined by her parents and teammates on the floor for a special celebration. It’s the first time in school history a Lion has won the award and for a player who doesn’t really like to talk about individual accomplishments, it was all a bit much for Bauman.
“It’s exciting and I never would have thought that this would happened,” Bauman said. I am just thankful to all of my coaches, teammates, family and friends.
“Really though, it’s about the rest of the starters and the girls coming off the bench that all work just as hard to have things pay off in the end.”
The game was tightly played through one quarter with Cudahy rotating defenders on Bauman and the inside presence of Jenna Jagler keeping the Packers close. Eisenhower pushed the early lead to four on a couple of occasions, and Bauman hit a jump shot with time running out to make it 14-8 at the end of the first.
During the second quarter, the Lions opened up the lead and put Cudahy away with a balanced attack from Bauman, Weiland and sophomore forward Jessa Hahn. After the Packers cut the lead back to four points, Eisenhower went on a 19-3 run to close out the half and take a 20 point lead. The Lions have three players that average in double figures, and coach Gary Schmidt sees that balance as something that gets lost in the Bauman-mania.
“We have a lot of balanced scoring and I’m not sure people realize that we do have a complete team,” Schmidt said. “In order to go anywhere you have to have a balanced attack and I think we are really showing that now late in the year.”
Cudahy finishes a strong season with a 19-5 record, four of those losses at the hands of New Berlin schools. Taylor Gradinjan finished off a superb senior year with an 18 point output in the losing effort. Gradinjan challenged Bauman on the offensive end of the court and was often times matched up with her on defense as well.
“She did a tremendous job for us and she’s done it throughout her entire career,” Cudahy coach Adam Stranc said. “She came in here dinged up and she gave everything she had tonight.”
Gradinjan was joined by three other senior starters, Jagler, Ashley Plachinski and Emily Wiltzius. Stranc acknowledged the ability of Bauman and the accomplishments of Eisenhower while explaining what his group of seniors meant to Cudahy basketball.
“They are a tremendous group of individuals beyond basketball,” Stranc said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have four kids that worked as hard as they have. They took this program to new heights.”
New Berlin Eisenhower is also reaching for new heights, looking to take its second state championship in three years. Bauman was a big part of the title run in 2010 and looks to cement her legacy over the next two weeks with another state championship.
“She had no idea she was even close (to the school record) because she’s not a stat person and never pays attention to that stuff,” Schmidt said. “We knew we had to win this game first, but she’s a special player and everything she does on the court shows that she is a complete player.
“This is a special night for us to win this regional at home and a special night for her winning this prestigious award.”
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