Precision pass puts Niagara in control

NIAGARA, Wis. – A helter-skelter M&O Conference girls basketball game looked like something out the big time for a brief moment Friday.

The decisive moment came in the fourth quarter when Casey Spigarelli lasered a pass through Lena’s defense to a driving Maria Miller for a lay-up that ignited Niagara past Lena 38-35.

“Great play by Casey and Maria,” Niagara Coach Laura Gunderson said. “Maria got out on the fastbreak and Casey gave her a nice pass.”

That textbook play with four minutes left pushed the Badgers past the Wildcats, 30-29, for the first time in eight minutes.

Niagara, with sophomore Brooklyn Wolosyn scoring seven of her game-high 15 points in the final three minutes, hung on from there.

“The girls stayed calm and fought through it,” Gunderson said.

Wolosyn added six of the Badgers’ 14 steals while Miller contributed nine points. Melissa Bushmaker led Lena (6-13, 4-9) with 14 points.

Niagara had this one in control early, building a 7-0 edge in the opening four minutes. Lena then came to life to take an 11-9 lead into the second quarter.

“We came out playing good basketball in the first quarter,” Gunderson said. “I thought we were getting back into the flow of things after being out of sync (Thursday against Wausaukee).”

Lena erased a 22-17 halftime deficit with an 11-2 surge in the third quarter.

“We went cold in that third quarter,” Gunderson said. “We were getting outhustled on rebounds and we missed bunnies. It came down to how many missed lay-ups.”

Trailing 28-24 after three quarters, Niagara broke out of the fourth stanza with an 8-1 run. A Wolosyn steal and triple also highlighted the comeback.

The Badgers also converted five free throws in the fourth quarter. They made 15 of 23 in the game – 10 of 12 in the first half.

“Our free throw shooting kept us in the game, especially in the first half,” Gunderson said.

The Badgers survived despite shooting 17 percent (11-66) from the floor.

Niagara (9-10 overall, 8-6 M&O) hosts Crivitz Monday in the season’s final regular season home game.

A junior varsity game was not played.

Lena 11 6 11 7 – 35

Niagara 9 13 2 14 – 38

LENA: Manning 5, VanLanen 8, Kallies 4, Bushmaker 14, Salter 2, Lange 2. FT: 4-8. F: 21. Fouled out: VanLanen (3:38, 4th), Bushmaker (1:28, 4th).

NIAGARA: Wolosyn 15, Spigarelli 1, Borchardt 4, Miller 9, Nawn 4, Harvath 5. FT: 15-23. F: 10.

3-point FG: Wolosyn, Manning, VanLanen 2. FG shooting: Niagara 11-66. Rebounding: Niagara 35 (Miller 9, Spigarelli 6, Nawn 6, Harvath 6.