MIDDLETON — Kimberly used a swarming defensive effort and snappy ball movement to jump in front and stay in front of Weiser in the first round of the 3A State Tournament Thursday. The Bulldogs won by a final score of 44-40.
Kimberly led by nine after one quarter and 11 at halftime, and looked well on its way to cruising to a first-round win. The Bulldogs turned the ball over several times in the second half, however, and Weiser consistently trimmed the lead, including cutting it to one with three minutes to play.
“We have some inexperienced players. We have a lot of young kids. They have to execute and take care of the ball. We didn’t do that very well once we started rotating players in,” said Kimberly head coach Stanley Watts.
Each time the Wolverines looked primed to take over the lead, Kimberly would dump the ball inside to senior Emily Wadsworth, and she responded with a basket to keep the Bulldogs in front.
Wadsworth finished with a team-high 17 points and fellow senior Ashlie Watts added 11.
“Our older players have been here before. I don’t think there were many nerves for us,” said Wadsworth. “When we need a basket, I know I need to attack and take it to the hole.”
Weiser outscored Kimberly by seven in the second half, but the Bulldogs connected on key baskets to maintain the lead throughout.
“We have to pound the ball inside. We tend to want to drift out and shoot threes, but we’re at our best when we can get it inside. When we trust the offense, we get good shots,” said Watts.
Kimberly advances to the state semifinal, where it will play third-ranked Sugar-Salem Friday at 6:15 p.m.
Kimberly 44, Weiser 40
Kimberly 14 10 10 10 - 44
Weiser 5 8 13 14 - 40
E. Wadsworth 17, Watts 11, Jo. Schmitz 7, J. Wadsworth 3, Sievers 4, A. Walker 2, Rosenkrance 1, Je. Schmitz 1 Totals: 18 6-18 44
3-point goals: Kimberly 2 (Watts, Jo. Schmitz) Team fouls: 21 Fouled out: Kimberly (J. Wadsworth, Rosenkrance).