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WIAA state girls hoops: Algoma routs Cuba City to reach D4 final

Wolves will face Colfax in Saturday's title game

Mar. 15, 2013
 

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Algoma's Leah Blazkovec, left, is fouled by Cuba City's Danielle Weber while taking a shot in the second quarter of Thursday's Division 4 semifinal of the WIAA girls state basketball tournament at the Resch Center. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

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ASHWAUBENON — Lee Lawrenz forecasted it in December before Anna Dier had even played in an entire varsity game.

The long-time Kewaunee County sportswriter said the 5-foot-11 freshman would be a key reason why Algoma would have a chance to win state this season despite graduating six seniors that accounted for over 3,600 points in their careers.

Lawrenz’s prophecy came true on Thursday night at the Resch Center, as Dier posted a game-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists in a 62-39 victory over Cuba City to put the Wolves in the WIAA Division 4 state championship game for the second time in three years.

“She’s a long kid that has good instinct,” Algoma coach Mark Zastrow said

“I think Anna has a good feel for finding the open passing lanes and what she does with those long arms is create a real good target.”

Dier went 9-for-10 from the field (90 percent), scoring all of her points in the paint, as she broke a 22-year-old record for best field-goal percentage in a D4 game, which previously was 87.5 percent.

Overall, the Wolves shot 54.8 percent from the field (23-for-42) and only attempted five 3-pointers, as they tallied 40 points in the paint in addition to having a 37-29 rebounding edge and scoring 19 points off turnovers.

Junior forward Kennedy Blahnik also posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, pulling down five boards in the first quarter when Algoma started the game on a 10-0 run.

“Physically, I thought we were just a little bit stronger,” Zastrow said. “Our kids, they understand the waves of the game with us. Sometimes it doesn’t look real pretty, but sometimes that’s what we want.”

While the Wolves (25-2) didn’t want to see Blahnik sustain an injury midway through the season that kept her out for 10 games, it may have been the best thing for this year’s younger team.

After moving up to the varsity on a full-time basis four games into the season, Blahnik’s injury forced Dier into a bigger role and it has paid dividends since Blahnik returned at the end of the regular season.

“You hate to have injuries, but bottom line is other kids are forced to step up,” Zastrow said.

Everybody in Algoma’s lineup stepped up on this night, as it had a 27-4 edge in bench scoring against the Cubans (25-2).

That included freshman Baleigh Delorit, who hit both of Algoma’s 3-pointers. The second came midway through the third quarter and sparked a 12-3 run that extended the lead to 46-26 with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.

“From the first day of practice I knew they were going to be something special,” said senior guard Taylor Schmidt about Delorit and Dier.

“I watched them play with my (younger) sister so I got to see them play all the time. Baleigh hit those 3s for us when we need them. She comes off the bench strong, and I think that’s what we needed. She’s like our sixth man.

“Anna always finishes, so I love giving her the ball.”

Schmidt, who was a starter on Algoma’s state runner-up team two years ago, tallied 13 points and eight assists. One of two seniors on the team, Schmidt came into the season off a torn anterior cruciate ligament and her younger teammates knew how bad she wanted to get back to the state championship.

“With (Schmidt) going out last year, nobody really thought we would have a shot this year,” said Dier, whose older sister, Lizzy, was on a senior on the 2011 runner-up team. “She’s always stepped up and leads the way, and we have to get the gold ball for her.”

In addition to helping Algoma advance to the D4 championship on Saturday against Colfax, Dier made it farther than her mother, Loni, did when she was on the Wolves’ first state team in 1979.

“She actually lost to Cuba City her first year, so we had to get revenge for her team,” Dier said. “We got that.”

Algoma 12 18 16 16 -- 62

Cuba City 5 13 12 9 -- 39

A: Dier 18, Schmidt 13, Mueller 4, Delorit 8, Koss 2, Blazkovec 4, Blahnik 13. 3-pt: Delorit 2. FT: 14-19. F: 15.

CC: Kaiser 2, Wedige 6, J. Marti 11, Pustina 16, K. Marti, Weber 1. 3-pt: J. Marti, Pustina 2, K. Marti. FT: 7-13. F: 18.

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