By Paul Lecker
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Last season as the Wisconsin Rapids Assumption girls basketball team ran through the playoffs on its way to the Division 5 state championship, the Royals relied mostly on an experienced group to carry the weight.
This season has been different. On any given night, one of the nine players in the main rotation have stepped up to keep the Royals on the winning track.
Whether it was sophomore Kendall Duellman’s huge jumper in the final minute to secure a win over Athens in the regional final, or freshman Sarah Shaw’s 20 points in a sectional semifinal win over Edgar, or the steady play of senior point guard Ainara Sainz de Rozas, Assumption always seems to have a player willing to take control.
Assumption (26-3) will take on Chippewa Falls McDonell (25-3) in a Division 5 semifinal at the 2022 WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament at 10:45 a.m. Friday at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Undefeated Randolph (29-0) will take on Highland (26-3) in other semifinal at 9 a.m., and the winners will play for a Division 5 state championship Saturday at 11 a.m.
All of the girls tournament games will be televised on WAOW-TV 9 of Wausau, and there will be an audio broadcast of the Assumption contests at zaleskisports.com.
“For other teams, it’s really hard to guard us because you don’t really know who’s going to step up for our team,” said Sainz de Rozas, the Marawood Conference South Division co-Player of the Year.
Sainz de Rozas is the only player that averages in double digits in scoring at 11.5 points per game. Shaw chips in 8.7 points per game, while the other seven in the main rotation – seniors Izzy Jungwirth and Kayla Kerkman, juniors Cristin Casey and Maleia Kolo, Duellman, and freshmen Anna Schooley and Addi Vollert – all contribute between 3.6 and 6.1 points per contest.
The diversity is something that head coach Ryan Klein said has made this season much different than last year’s run to state.
“Last year we had basically the same group and you could get behind those girls,” Klein said. “Now, there is that constant uncertainty of where are you going to get the contributions. It makes it a bit unsettling for both the coaches and the fans, but it also makes it exciting. There’s a lot of great girls that are super-supportive of one another and that helps the process.”
McDonell’s success centers around the play of 5-foot-4 senior guard Lauryn Deetz, who averages 17.2 points per game, shoots 79 percent from the free throw line and 43 percent from 3-point range with 34 makes.
Sophomore Emily Cooper chips in 11 points per game, with a team-high 54 3-pointers.
Assumption will be looking for its fourth state title overall, having also won titles in 2013 and 2016 in addition to last season. The Royals have their eyes on the prize.
“I think we really need to focus up and remember what we’re playing for,” Jungwirth said. “We’re not just coming to the gym for a shoot-around, so focus is going to be really big for us.”
Tickets for the tournament are $11 per session online at www.ticketstaronline.com/events/detail/wiaa-girls-state-basketball, or at the Resch box office.
2022 WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament
March 10-12, at Resch Center, Green Bay
Thursday, March 10
Division 3 Semifinals
No. 1 Waupun (25-3) vs. No. 4 Whitefish Bay Dominican (18-9), 1:30 p.m.
No. 2 Freedom (27-1) vs. No. 3 St. Croix Falls (24-4), approximately 3:15 p.m.
Division 4 Semifinals
No. 1 Mineral Point (28-0) vs. No. 4 Westfield (27-1), 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Laconia (24-4) vs. No. 3 Neillsville (25-2), approximately 8:15 p.m.
Friday, March 11
Division 5 Semifinals
No. 1 Randolph (29-0) vs. No. 4 Highland (26-3), 9 a.m.
No. 2 Wisconsin Rapids Assumption (26-3) vs. No. 3 Chippewa Falls McDonell (25-3), approximately 10:45 a.m.
Division 2 Semifinals
No. 1 Green Bay Notre Dame (27-1) vs. No. 4 Menomonie (25-3), 1:30 p.m.
No. 2 Reedsburg (28-0) vs. No. 3 Pewaukee (25-3), approximately 3:15 p.m.
Division 1 Semifinals
No. 1 Kettle Moraine (25-3) vs. No. 4 De Pere (24-4), 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Brookfield East (25-3) vs. No. 3 Appleton East (24-4), approximately 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
Division 5, 11 a.m.
Division 4, approximately 12:45 p.m.
Division 3, approximately 2:30 p.m.
Division 2, 6:30 p.m.
Division 1, approximately 8:15 p.m.