By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports
MARSHFIELD – With the game tied in the final seconds, the Marshfield girls basketball team was focused on making a stop and forcing overtime in its game against Wausau West.
Not only did the Tigers make that stop, forcing a turnover, but ended up winning the game.
Danielle Minsaas grabbed a loose ball 60 feet from the basket, dribbled just past half court, and passed the ball to an open Maddie Michaelis who threw in a one-handed shot at the buzzer to lift Marshfield to a miraculous 52-50 victory over Wausau West on Friday night at Marshfield High School.
The win, the Tigers’ 10th in a row, assures them at least a share of the Wisconsin Valley Conference championship. Marshfield (14-5, 11-1 WVC) will finish its regular-season schedule with nonconference road games at Menomonie on Tuesday and at Rhinelander on Thursday. Stevens Point, who whipped Wausau East 83-45 on Friday, is one-half game behind the Tigers and will play its final conference game at Wausau West next Thursday.
“We were not going to let them get up a shot,” Michaelis said. “Dani Minsaas had a great steal, saw the clock, made a great pass and it went. We got lucky that time, so it was really good. I didn’t really know what was going on. When she passed the ball, I knew I had to get it up as quick as I could.”
Marshfield coach Taylor Varsho was proud of her team and the way it played on defense with the game on the line.
“We had a game plan going on to defense (after a made free throw) that we were in our ‘One Fire’ which is our most intense defense,” Varsho said. “Dani is a kid that comes into practice and doesn’t say too much, but does her job and plays her role. Kudos to her. She got her hands on the ball and flipped it to Maddie. Maddie sprinted the court, made the last-second shot. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the conference (season).”
Marshfield had big leads in both halves only to see Wausau West (10-11, 7-4 WVC) come back each time.
Marshfield started the game on a 12-5 run, sparked by six points from Desirae Weisenberger and four by Paige Preston.
A Michaelis’ 3-pointer put Marshfield up 19-12 with 5:20 left in the first half.
West responded with a 10-2 run to close the half as Marshfield missed its final five shots and turned the ball over five times. Baskets by Allie Hanke and Anna Cunningham gave the Warriors a 22-21 advantage at halftime, its first lead of the game.
Marshfield’s offense was crisp early in the second half. The Tigers went on a 13-2 run during the first six minutes as Kaydee Johnson hit two 3-pointers and Quincy Lang added another to put Marshfield up 34-24.
West again came back, making 3-pointers on three-straight possessions. The third, by Grace Michalske, cut the Tigers’ lead to 37-35 with 9:15 remaining.
It was tight for the rest of the game with Marshfield’s lead fluctuating between two and five over the next seven minutes.
Layups by Johnson and Preston gave Marshfield a 49-45 lead with 2:27 to go before West pushed ahead. A 3-pointer from Kenzie Deaton and a basket inside from Cunningham pushed the Warriors back on top at 50-48 with 1:44 left. That would be West’s final points.
West missed the front end of a bonus free throw situation with 29.5 seconds left before Weisenberger, following an offensive rebound, was fouled and went to the line. She missed the first, but made the second free throw to tie the game at 50-50 with 16.8 seconds left.
West dribbled past half-court before Minsaas stripped the ball only to have West recover. Minsaas then knocked it away again, gathered the ball and took off down court before finding Michaelis with a bounce pass and the Tigers’ junior guard sank the game-winner to earn Marshfield its first girls basketball title since 2016.
“It’s such a big step from last year and the beginning of this year,” Michaelis said of pulling out the Valley title. “We started out 0-3 and there was a lot of doubt, but we kept pushing and this is what we were working for.”
Following that 0-3 start, the Tigers are 14-2, including the 10-game winning streak, and Varsho said it is because of all the work her team did before and has done during the season.
“My girls come in on game day at 6:30 to put up shots, then put in a day of school and are right back here,” Varsho said. “The time they put in in the summer, the time they put in in the fall, I can’t give them enough credit. They deserve this win and it all goes back to how hard they work.”
Michaelis finished with 15 points, Weisenberger scored 12 and Johnson added 10 for Marshfield. Kiley Deaton led West with 15 points and Cunningham had 14.
Tigers 52, Warriors 50 Wausau West 22 28 – 50 Marshfield 21 31 – 52 WAUSAU WEST (50): Kiley Deaton 7-19 0-0 15, Anna Cunningham 6-10 2-2 14, Allie Hanke 1-6 2-2 4, Grace Michalske 2-2 0-0 6, Maddie Hauer 2-4 1-2 6, Lexie White 1-2 0-0 2, Kenzie Deaton 1-4 0-1 3. FG: 20-47. FT: 5-7. 3-pointers: 5-15 (Michalske 2-2, Hauer 1-2, Ke. Deaton 1-4, Ki. Deaton 1-7). Rebounds: 34 (White 7). Turnovers: 20. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: none. Record: 10-11, 7-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference. MARSHFIELD (52): Kaydee Johnson 4-11 0-0 10, Maddie Michaelis 4-17 5-6 15, Danielle Minsaas 1-7 2-2 4, Desirae Weisenberger 5-6 1-4 12, Paige Preston 4-12 0-0 8, Quincy Lang 1-2 0-0 3. FG: 19-55. FT: 8-12. 3-pointers: 6-18 (Johnson 2-3, Michaelis 2-10, Lang 1-1, Weisenberger 1-1, Minsaas 0-3). Rebounds: 28 (Johnson 8). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 14-5, 11-1 Wisconsin Valley Conference.