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Pike's 3-pointer buries Wisco

Trojans march into sectionals after winning second straight regional

March 14, 2012

The Wauwatosa West girls basketball team got hot at the right time and upset third-seeded Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday at Wisco, 48-45, winning their second consecutive regional championship.

For most of the final quarter, Wisconsin Lutheran was sailing smoothly.

Senior Karynda DuPree rattled off nine consecutive points for the Vikings on a series of post moves, soft-arcing free throws, and even a long-distance three. Junior floor general Kelsey Frey plucked a pair of steals from the Trojans and was calmly leading the attack. The Vikings led 45-40 with just more than 2 minutes remaining and it didn't look good for the Trojans.

But then the Trojans scored the final eight points of the game.

It began when West sophomore wing Elise Ditscheit found senior Jenna Lahmann slashing through traffic to make it 45-42. The Trojans then forced the Vikings into three consecutive turnovers.

"We knew defense would be the key," said junior Jessica Pike. "We knew about their inside scorers and outside shooters. We tried not to foul, and just left everything on the court in case it was our last game."

With just 38 seconds remaining, Ditscheit did it again. The sophomore drove to the hole, got fouled, and buried a pair of free throws to draw West within one point, 45-44.

With 25 seconds remaining, Trojans junior forward Latasha Harmon snatched a steal off the wing and tossed a pass up the sideline to Pike, who calmly buried a rainbow three.

"That was the play of the game right there," said West coach Ron Gavinski. "Latasha, if she doesn't make that play for us, who knows what's going to happen? And Jessica Pike? For the lead, with under 30 seconds? That's a big shot anywhere."

"All I was thinking about was my team getting ahead," Pike said. "I work on my shot a lot. This seemed like a good time to use it. I took the shot and prayed it went in."

Suddenly, West had the lead for the first time since the third quarter began. A third Vikings turnover, with just 12 seconds remaining, all but sealed the deal. Sophomore Ashley Lindstrom hit one of two free throws for West at the end.

Wisconsin Lutheran's final 3-point attempt to force overtime bounced off the side of the rim, and Tosa West - team and fans alike - erupted.

The teams mirrored one another in talent, makeup and style. For Wisconsin Lutheran, the steady hand of Frey (six steals, four assists), interior finesse of DuPree (20 points, five rebounds, four blocks), and scoring bursts of sophomore lockdown defender Elise DeNoyer (11 points) were all but negated by the spinning lefty showmanship of West senior guard Jenna Engel (10 points, five assists), the toughness and grit of Harmon (six points, 10 rebounds) and the all-purpose gamesmanship of Ditscheit (14 points, three assists).

There were seven lead changes in the first half, never more than five points either way, but the third quarter went to Wisconsin Lutheran. The Vikings outscored the Trojans, 13-7, largely on the open court skills of junior Mandy Frey (nine points) and interior work of DuPree.

But the fourth quarter, at least the chunk of it that mattered most, went to Tosa West.

Next up for West is Whitefish Bay in tonight's sectional semifinal.

"We played them once this year and lost by seven," Gavinski said. "We're going to need more great team defense, and we're going to need to hit more big shots. Their coach (Greg) Capper is a good one. It's going to be a great game. If we work hard, who knows what will happen?"

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