New Berlin Eisenhower battled back but couldn't get over the hump and fell to Woodland Champion Pius XI, 35-30, on Saturday to win the WIAA Sectional Championship at Brookfield Central.
Behind sophomore Katie Gardner's 9 first-half points, the Lady Popes led 20-9 at intermission.
But the Lions bounced back to outscore the Lady Popes, 13-4, in the third quarter to cut the lead to 24-22 going into the fourth period.
Sophomore Chelsea Brackmann scored 6 points, junior Sammy Kozlowski added 4 and junior Sydney Cheung scored 3 in the third.
Kozlowski and Cheung opened with 3-pointers, Kozlowski and Gardner each went 1-for-2 from the free throw line, Brackmann scored in close twice, the second off an excellent pass from Kozlowski, cutting it to 21-20 with 2:49 left in the third.
Olivia Freckmann nailed a 3 and Brackmann hit another layup to go into the fourth quarter trailing, 24-22.
But that was it for Lions.
"We told the kids that during tournament time there will be stretches where you just can't get a basket," Pius coach Scott Herrick said. "They are a good defense too, But we played good defense and refused to let them get the lead. We told them during the timeouts, 'Hey we're still winning, Hey we're still winning.' and we couldn't make a shot."
IKE coach Gary Schmidt talked about coming up short.
"Twice we had good shots and I thought, 'That one's in, that one's in' but they didn't fall," he said. "We had a chance to take the lead, but there was no doubt about it, the ball just wouldn't go in.
"Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be lucky. I give credit to them. They really defended us. It was a chess game. But when we had a chance it just didn't work out. I think if we got over the hump, the game could have been different."
Pius went on a 7-0 run to take a 31-22 lead to get some breathing room with 2:20 left. But Cheung nailed another 3 and Kozlowski stole the ball and cut it to 31-27.
Sophomore Emalie Hahn's 3 was off set by two free throws from Gabby Green and Ashley Pitrof to end the game.
"We've worked so hard on our shell defense and rebounding," Herrick said. "Sometimes our offense takes a little hit because we work so hard on it. Hopefully tonight that was the difference."
Schmidt was coaching in his fifth straight sectional title game,
"I'm so proud of our kids - they're not quitters; they battled back," he said. "They played so hard. It was a winnable game for us."
Brackmann finished with 13 points, but the next best scoring was Kozlowski and Cheung with 6 points each.
"This was a very good learning lession," Schmidt said, as he only has two seniors on the team (Jessa Hahn and Anthie Katris). "I just pleased with what their effort was."
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