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Hornets win three games in five days to claim third regional title in last five seasons

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Kiley Manning gets past Seneca’s Lydia West (2) and Emma Manning (10) and teammates Macy Mitchell (2) and Cameron Hurda (5) to launch a buzzer beating half court shot but it was no good. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Ally Wall takes a rebound from the defense as Elizabeth Wright (3) and Isabella Bunders (23) watch. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

The Hornets Martha Backstrom (34) shoots a three-point attempt over the Royals' Nadia Klema (23). (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Natalie Wright looks to go the other way with the ball with Seneca's Lydia West (2) guarding. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Seneca sophomore Camryn Lenzendorf passes the ball into the interior over the head of Wauzeka-Steuben's Natalie Wright. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Dhyllan Kemp of the Royals looks to get past Ally Wall (right) and Morgan Berger (bottom) of the Hornets. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Seneca freshman Emma Manning looks for an open teammate up the court as she brings the ball up. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Wauzeka-Steuben sophomore Isabella Bunders (23) is guarded by Seneca senior Nadia Klema. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

By Derick Kelly

 

The Wauzeka-Steuben girls basketball team opened up its postseason run last Tuesday night when Seneca traveled to town for a D5 Regional Quarterfinal game. The hosts carried a 41-16 lead into halftime before holding the Royals to just seven points in the second half as the Hornets earned the 65-23 victory.

Leading the Hornets in scoring against the Royals was Elizabeth Wright with 14 points. She lead a balanced scoring attack that saw all 10 players on the roster score during the game. Rounding out that scoring attack was Emma Wall and Kiley Manning with nine points each, Macy Mitchell with seven points, Cameron Hurda, Isabella Bunders, and Ally Wall with six points each, Morgan Berger with four points, and Natalie Wright and Martha Backstrom with two points each.

The Hornets were back on the court three nights later when they hosted the Black Hawk Warriors in the regional semifinal round. After a relatively low scoring first half saw the Hornets take a 22-14 lead into the break, the offensive pace picked up with the hosts out scoring the visitors from the Six Rivers East 32-30 to earn the 54-44 victory.

Wauzeka-Steuben once again showed great scoring balance from their roster as eight of the 10 players on the roster scored during the game, including three players in double figures. Leading the way for the Hornets was Ally Wall who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Also scoring in double figures were E. Wright and Hurda with 11 points each. Also scoring were Berger (seven points), Mitchell (five points), Bunders (four points), N. Wright (two points), and Manning (one point).

The win over Black Hawk set up a rematch in the regional final on Saturday night against Belmont, another Six Rivers Conference foe and one of two teams to have beaten the Hornets this season. However that 48-40 victory by the Braves on Jan. 25 (the last time the Hornets lost prior to their current nine game winning streak), took place at Belmont where as the regional final rematch was to take place in Wauzeka.

The two teams played to a 23-23 tie at intermission before the Hornets outlasted the visitors 28-23 in the second half to earn just the fourth  ever regional championship in program history with this year being the third title in the last five seasons (2020, 2021). The first regional championship came back in 1990.

Ally Wall once again paced the Hornets as she scored 18 points. Despite no other Hornet reaching double figures in scoring, they did get contributions from Berger with nine points, five assists, and four rebounds, Hurda with eight points and seven rebounds, Elizabeth and Natalie Wright with seven points each, Manning with three points, and Emma Wall with one point.

The Hornets improved to 24-2 on the season with the three regional wins and will advance to Thursday night’s sectional semifinal game at Richland Center against Argyle/Pecatonica, champions of the Six Rivers East Conference. 

The Orioles took over the No. 1 spot in D5 in the final Wissports.net Coaches Poll thanks to having now won 24 straight games following their season opening loss to D3 Belleville.

Start time is 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to Saturday’s sectional final at Portage High School.

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