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Columbus Catholic guard Meghan Kibbel drives inside for a layup during the first half of the Dons’ 52-32 win over Gilmanton in a WIAA Division 5 girls basketball regional quarterfinal on Tuesday night at Columbus Catholic High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

For Zaleski Sports

MARSHFIELD – Missed jump shots by Marshfield Columbus Catholic kept Gilmanton in the game. Once the Dons started driving to the basket, their opponents didn’t stand a chance.

Columbus Catholic ended the game on a 31-11 run over the final 14½ minutes to defeat the Panthers 52-32 in a WIAA Division 5 girls basketball regional quarterfinal on Tuesday night at Columbus Catholic High School.

Seventh-seed Columbus Catholic (12-11) moves on to a D-5 regional semifinal at No. 2 seed Eleva-Strum (16-6) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Columbus Catholic seemingly settled for the first open jump shot it could find in the first half and made just 7 of 39 shots overall as it took a slim 17-14 lead into the break.

Gilmanton (8-13) tied the game at 21-21 on a 3-pointer from Lydia Evans with 14:32 to go and from there it was all Dons.

Columbus went on a 15-1 run over the next 8½ minutes to put the game away.

Annika Brown had a three-point play and Meghan Kibbel drove inside for a pair of hoops to spark the run for the Dons.

“We talked in the first half, even pre-game, about attacking gaps, either cutting to them or penetrating and dribbling to them, and we didn’t do a good job,” Columbus Catholic coach Ron Wilczek said. “We kind of settled for perimeter shots. At halftime we kind of re-emphasized that there are opportunities in the lane and we took advantage of those.

“I thought our defensive intensity picked up too, contested more shots and gave up less easy baskets. As a result, we gained control of the game and came out on top.”

Gilmanton made one final run, cutting the Dons’ lead to 40-32 on 3-pointers from Elizabeth Meier and Lydia Evans, but would not get any closer.

Columbus closed the game on a 12-0 run, all on layups or free throws.

Following the injury to leading scorer Addison Baierl a month ago, the Dons lost three straight and struggled to find a way to replace her scoring. More recently, however, others have stepped up.

“We’re not going to shoot well every game, but our defense will keep us in games,” Wilczek said. “I’m delighted on how our offense is coming around. It was an adjustment. The girls have really stepped up and really understood that not one girl has to score 19 points. All you have to score is two, or three, or four more and I think really good job sharing. Our chemistry tonight, late, was fantastic.”

Meghan Kibbel finished with 14 points and five rebounds, Brown added 11 points, Emmalee Jicinsky had eight points and 12 rebounds, and Kelsey Moore also had eight points for the Dons.

Dons 52, Panthers 32 Gilmanton 14 18 – 32 Columbus Catholic 17 35 – 52 GILMANTON (32): Lydia Evans 3-9 1-2 9, Grace Serum 0-2 0-0 0, Hillari Klopp 0-0 0-0 0, Elizabeth Meier 2-6 0-0 5, Cali Flick 1-4 1-2 3, Marli Evans 1-4 0-0 2, Taylor Hovey 4-10 1-2 9, Karissa O’Connell 0-0 0-0 0, Keannah Bloom 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Olson 2-2 0-0 4, Katlynn Ottum 0-0 0-0 0, Kailey Herbenson 0-0 0-0 0, Olivia Wulff 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 13-38. FT: 3-6. 3-pointers: 3-10 (L. Evans 2-6, Meier 1-3, Serum 0-1). Rebounds: 30 (Olson 6, Hovey 6). Turnvoers: 25. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 8-13. COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (52): Annika Brown 4-8 3-5 11, Emmalee Jicinsky 4-10 0-0 8, Meghan Kibbel 6-16 2-3 14, Kelsey Moore 3-15 0-0 8, Holly Dean 1-5 0-0 2, Erynn Meece 1-3 0-0 2, Jenna Kibbel 3-8 1-3 7, Mira Torbey 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 22-65. FT: 6-11. 3-pointers: 2-19 (Moore 2-13, Dean 0-3, M. Kibbel 0-2, Brown 0-1). Rebounds: 30 (Jicinsky 12). Turnovers: 6. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: none. Record: 12-11.

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