By Steve Pilz
For Zaleski Sports
STRATFORD - The No. 6 seed Stratford girls basketball team started strong, survived a first-half lull and roared to a second half throttling No. 11 Necedah 56-28 in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal Wednesday at Stratford High School.
The Tigers (12-12) will take on No. 3 seed Iola-Scandinavia (14-9) at 7 p.m. Friday at Iola. The game will be broadcast live at zaleskisports.com. Necedah finishes 2-19.
Allison Lindner got the Tigers rolling with the game’s first bucket. Bailey Linzmaier got the next two and Lexie Christopherson made two more to put Stratford up 10-0.
The Cardinals didn’t score until the 9:45 mark of the first half on a free throw by Katelyn Frietag.
The Tigers went 1-for-7 after that as Necedah began to chip away and took a lead of their own at 16-15 near the end of the half. A 3-pointer by Christopherson gave the Tigers the lead back before intermission at 22-18.
“We didn’t play a good first half,” Stratford coach Tammy Christopherson said. “I’m not going to sugar-coat that. We were slow on defense, we didn’t react, we didn’t rotate well. We let them get the better of us on the boards.”
One adjustment the Tigers may have talked about was getting the ball to Lauren Kraus. The junior post player got three of the first four baskets and scored all 11 of her points in the second half for Stratford. Nearly all the other Tigers pitched in for a 34-point blitz during the final 18 minutes.
Necedah didn’t score a field goal until about three minutes left in the game and had just 10 points. Stratford’s defense ratcheted up a notch as well forcing the Cardinals into 12 turnovers after intermission.
“After some adjustments at halftime we started squeezing better, rotated better and boarded better”, Christopherson said. “I feel like when we play good defense our offense often follows. We did a better job of working the ball inside-out and finding good open looks and finishing stronger in the second half.”
Christopherson seemed to know a little about her up-coming opponent, as well.
“Iola is very similar to us. Sometimes when I watch them on tape, I feel like I’m watching us,” she said. “They have some good guards and a strong post player. Ironically, our juniors played against them all throughout grade school so we’ve seen this team, but not for about three years.
“They’re the No. 3 seed for a reason. They attack you all night long. They play man like we do and are an up-tempo team as well. It’ll be a good match-up, an exciting game.”
Christopherson led the Tigers with 14 points while Kraus had 11 as 10 Tigers scored in the game.
Tigers 56, Cardinals 28
Necedah 18 10 - 28
Stratford 22 34 - 56
NECEDAH (28): Marysta Saylor 2 2-3 6, Katelyn Freitag 0 1-4 1, Paige Uksas 1 4-5 6, Paige Lowery 2 0-0 5, Hannah Hunkins 2 3-4 8, Kylie Andes 1 0-0 2. FG 8-28. FT: 10-17. 3-pointers 2-8 (Lowery 1, Hunkins 1). Turnovers 19. Record: 2-19.
STRATFORD (58): Allison Lindner 2 2-4 6, Lily Yoder 1 0-0 2, Lauryn Wiesman 1 0-0 2, Lauren Kraus 4 3-4 11, Bailey Linzmaier 4 1-2 9, Tessa Berg 1 0-1 2, Kalyn Schueller 2 2-5 6, Sailor Kauffman 0 2-2 2, Lexie Christopherson 6 0-0 14, Ashley Hollatz 1 0-0 2. FG 22-55. FT: 10-18. 3-pointers 2-14 (Christopherson 2). Turnovers 7. Record: 12-12.