By David Keech
March 1, 2018
Schofield-– Basketball teams that make it to sectionals are battle-tested and resilient. A game of runs that ultimately came down to which team could outslug the other down the stretch saw Marathon outlast Colby, 52-48 in WIAA Girls Basketball sectional semifinal action.
Marathon made a statement right off the bat, scoring easy baskets by Brooke Balz to start the game, and a 4-0 lead looked like the Red Raiders were off and running.
Colby ran faster, however, coming back to take a 8-4 lead. Another basket by Balz and Marathon trailed 8-7, but Colby then made a statement.
Vanessa Lopez and Hailey Voelker became dominant forces on defense for the Hornets, propelling Colby on a 10-2 run that Marathon on its heels with six minutes to go in the half.
“We just started moving the ball around better and we hit shots,” Lopez explained.
Marathon then showed composure and its own run.
“Coach told us to keep moving the ball around, look to move the ball inside,” said Marathon’s Katelyn Schmidt.
Trailing 18-11, Marathon rushed ahead with a 15-3 burst that gave the Red Raiders a 26-21 lead at halftime.
“We started out so focused. Maybe we lost our focus at times, that led to Marathon making a run, Colby senior Carley Elmhorst shared.
Lopez shared Colby Head Coach Randy Rau emphasized the importance at halftime of moving the ball on offense.
“Coach told us we needed to handle the ball better and move the ball around,” said Elmhorst.
The same message was being delivered in the Marathon lockerroom.
“We talked at halftime about the importance of getting the ball inside,” Schmidt explained. “Getting the ball inside really helped us get other open looks.”
Colby regrouped at halftime, and when Alyssa Underwood made two free throw with 7 minutes gone, the crowd at DC Everest sensed it would be a tight game the rest of the way. The Red Raiders had other thoughts, though.
Senior Katelyn Schmidt then took over for Marathon, scoring 13 points in a run that had Marathon flying high.
Coupled with a pesky Marathon defense that produced seven second-half turnovers, Schmidt and the Red Raiders quieted Colby down. With eight minutes to go, Marathon was ready to punch its ticket to the sectional finals, leading 46-30.
Colby then proved to be a resilient bunch, and put on a comeback that will be remembered for the ages.
Colby senior Carley Elmhorst then made a statement, engineering a 14-2 comeback that put energy back into the Colby fans and had Marathon on its heels.
“Honestly, in my head I was just thinking, this is it. We’re just going for it, letting it all out, trying to make one last run at it,” Elmhorst said.
Elmhorst connected on a pair of three pointers, the second coming with four minutes and change left, erased the Red Raider cushion and Colby trailed 48-44.
The momentum swing had Colby playing on a high.
“It felt good, our momentum was going. He told us to concentrate and focus on our offense,” said Voelker.
Colby’s run on the offensive end was paired with its own pesky defense that produced four big turnovers, and nearly led them to the victory. Multiple shots would not go down for Colby, however, including a three point attempt by Ashley Streveler that was seemingly half way down the cylinder that would have trimmed the lead to one with two minutes to go.
A three from Hailey Voelker with 32 seconds left gave Colby hope, but Marathon survived the comeback and advanced.
“Coach was telling us to be strong with the ball, to play with our heart, give it our all,” Schmidt explained.
Schmidt led all scorers with 19 points, with Balz adding 14 points for Marathon.
Lopez had 12 points for Colby, with Streveler and Elmhorst each scoring ten points. Voelker had 9 rebounds to lead the Hornets. Lopez and Elmhorst each had 7 rebounds.
Marathon advances to the sectional final, taking on #2 seed Crandon Saturday at Antigo. Gametime is 1:00. Support from Marathon fans matters, Schmidt said.
“It’s crazy having all these fans supporting us, cheering us on wherever we are.”
An emotional but appreciative Elmhorst summed up the feeling for Colby, keeping things in perspective.
“It hurts to lose, of course, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything, to be part of this school. Our fans are so awesome, all of this support, it is so special,” shared Elmhorst.
Colby(48) Hailey Voelker 7, Carley Elmhorst 10, Vanessa Lopez 12, Ashley Streveler 10, Alyssa Underwood 3, Heather Lynn 2, Megan Underwood 4
Marathon(52) Stephanie Draeger 4, Alysha Stieber 6, Kyli Blume 1, Olivia Ziebell 4, Elizabeth Boehm 4, Katelyn Schmidt 19, Brooke Balz 14