PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Rabbits dominate Panthers
WORTHINGTON -- Amber Walkowaik topped 1,000 career points as the Ellsworth Panthers girls' basketball season came to an end with a 75-48 loss to the No. 1-seed Wabasso Rabbits in the first Section 3A South quarterfinal game of four played on "Super Saturday" at Worthington High School.
Wabasso (24-2), which outscored the eighth-seeded Panthers 24-4 in the game's first 8 minutes, advanced to the semifinals to play No. 4-seed Fulda on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Worthington.
"We came out and did what we needed to do," Wabasso head coach Neil Dolan said. "We wanted to get up early and play defense. I told the girls that defense was going to get us going and we were able to convert some easy baskets early."
Wabasso used a 1-2-2 zone defense (full and halfcourt) throughout the game to build and maintain its lead. Ellsworth committed 19 turnovers as the Rabbits created 13 steals against 15 turnovers.
"We could've done a better job of getting the ball up (against Wabasso's press)," Ellsworth head coach Lisa Thielen said. "Once we settled down, we did a better job of breaking their press. But our shots just didn't fall (Saturday) and we had a few easy and lazy turnovers.
"Wabasso's a really good team and I give them a lot of credit. Every single one of their girls can play and it just shows how much depth that they have."
Nine players scored for the Rabbits, who have won the Tomahawk Conference in back-to-back years. Chelsey Guetter (three steals) paced the Rabbits with a game-high 19 points, while Ellen Franta (five assists) added 12. Kimberly Frank (four steals) had eight and Kacie Rothmeier (six assists, three steals) and Desi Kramer each scored seven.
"We were deep," Dolan added. "Not only from our top five as we ran nine girls and that gets difficult for teams sometimes because they keep seeing different girls come at them."
Wabasso also outrebounded Ellsworth at a 47-27 clip. Kramer topped the Rabbits with nine boards, while Guetter and Karlee Eichten each had seven. Walkowaik led the Panthers with seven caroms and Hannah Mulder recorded six.
"We came out knowing (Wabasso) was a good team," Thielen said. "They have a lot more depth than us and they are a lot taller than us. But our girls are competitors until the end and they showed that (Saturday). When we get down, the girls are always willing to come back and fight until the very end."
Alexa Huisman (14 points, two steals, two shot blocks) snapped Wabasso's initial spurt with a left-corner 3 with 9 minutes, 58 seconds left to make it 24-7. Forty-seven seconds later, Walkowaik entered the 1,000 point club when the senior guard made two free throws.
Walkowaik's team-high 15 points helped her finish her Panthers' career with 1,009.
"I had a great career," Walkowaik said. "I love my team. We did everything together and the coaches helped me through everything. If it wasn't for them, I would not be where I am. Basketball -- I just love it and I'm really going to miss it."
Along with Walkowaik (five assists), seniors Bridget Kramer (five points, four assists, two steals) and Jeanilla Russell-Rogers each played in their final basketball game with Ellsworth.
Junior Heidi Nolte provided eight timely points for the Panthers in the game's final 5 minutes with her first make coming on a left-wing 3 with 4:46 left. Wabasso held a 33-point lead prior to the Nolte's basket, which prevented the Rabbits from potentially pushing the contest into running time.
Alissa Walters added three points 13 seconds later for Ellsworth when she converted a conventional 3-point play off a steal and a layup. Brenna Kramer scored the Panthers' other three points of the game, which came on a first-half 3 that cut Wabasso's lead to 39-21 at 2:51.
Ellsworth ended its season with a 12-14 record and a sixth-place finish in the Red Rock Conference with a 7-9 league mark.
ELLSWORTH (12-14): Walters 1 1-3 3, Nolte 3 0-0 8, Walkowaik 6 2-3 15, Mulder 0 0-0 0, Bri. Kramer 2 0-2 5, Hieronimus 0 0-0 0, Bre. Kramer 1 0-0 3, Huisman 5 2-7 14, Chapa 0 0-0 0, Popkes 0 0-0 0, Kruse 0 0-0 0, Russell-Rogers 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 5-15 48.
WABASSO (24-2): Rohlik 2 0-0 6, D. Kramer 2 3-4 7, Liebl 1 2-2 4, Eichten 2 1-4 5, B. Franta 1 0-0 3, K. Frank 4 0-0 8, E. Franta 5 0-2 12, A. Rothmeier 0 0-0 0, K. Rothmeier 3 0-0 7, Guetter 7 5-5 19, M. Frank 2 0-0 4. Totals: 29 11-17 75.
Ellsworth 25 23 -- 48
Wabasso 43 32 -- 75
3-Point Goals: Ellsworth 7 (Huisman 2, Nolte 2, Walkowaik, Bri. Kramer, Bre. Kramer); Wabasso 6 (Rohlik 2, E. Franta 2, B. Franta, K. Rothmeier). Rebounds: Ellsworth 27 (Walkowaik 7, Mulder 6); Wabasso 47 (D. Kramer 9, Eichten 7, Guetter 7, E. Franta 6, M. Frank 6). Total Fouls (Fouled Out): Ellsworth 12 (Mulder); Wabasso 19 (None). Technical Fouls: None. Assists: Ellsworth 11 (Walkowaik 5, Bri. Kramer 4); Wabasso 23 (K. Rothmeier 6, E. Franta 5). Steals: Ellsworth 6 (Bri. Kramer 2, Huisman 2); Wabasso 13 (K. Frank 4, K. Rothmeier 3, Guetter 3). Blocked Shots: Ellsworth 2 (Huisman 2); Wabasso 1 (Eichten). Turnovers: Ellsworth 19, Wabasso 15.