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Friday, March 8, 2019

Aquinas, Melrose-Mindoro Head for Rematch in Division 4 Title Tilt

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Defending champion Aquinas (26-1) fought off an early challenge from the Milwaukee Academy of Science to post a 77-59 win in the Division 4 semifinals Thursday evening at the Resch Center. 

The Blugolds tied a State Tournament record for free throw percentage in a game by making all 19 of their attempts from the charity stripe. 

Trailing by a point at 39-38 with 14:32 remaining in second half, the Blugolds went on a 14-2 run over the span of the next next five minutes to take a double-digit lead. The closest the Novas would get the rest of the way was nine points. The Blugolds built their biggest lead of the game to 18 points late in the game. Aquinas shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half.

Lexi Donarski poured in 28 points to lead all scorers for the Blugolds, including 10-of-10 from the free throw line, which ties a Division 4 record for accuracy in a game with the most number of attempts without a miss. The most free throws made without a miss prior to Donarski’s marksmanship was eight. The Blugolds also had a pair of players recording double figures in both points and rebounds. Courtney Becker scored 13 points with 10 rebounds, and Kayla Bahr had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Theusch also contributed double-figures in scoring with 10 points.

The Novas were led by Nakiyah Hurst with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Shemera Williams also posted a double-double with ith 18 points and 10 rebounds. Milwaukee Academy of Science outscored Aquinas 44-26 on points scored in the lane, but the Novas converted on just 2-of-16 shots from beyond the arc. 

Milwaukee Academy of Science (19-6) completes its season with its second State appearance, and the Blugolds advance to the final attempting to win their second title in a row playing in their third State Tournament.

Last year’s runner-up Melrose-Mindoro (26-1) earned a rematch with Aquinas in the final after downing previously undefeated Colby 63-44 in the Division 4 semifinals Thursday night at the Resch Center.

The Mustangs never trailed in the game. The Hornets managed to draw even only once early in the game at 2-2. Melrose-Mindoro led by as many as 16 points in the first half and led 35-22 at the half. Colby cut its deficit to six points early in the second half but could get no closer. The Mustangs built their biggest lead of the game at  21 points a couple of times in the final seven minute of the game. 

Melrose-Mindoro had a sizable advantage in a number of statistical categories, including making 27-36 free throws. In addition, the Mustangs outscored the Hornets in second-chance points 20-3 and 23-10 in points directly off turnovers.

Emily Herzberg led the Mustangs offensively with 21 points. Mesa Byom notched a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Erika Simmons chipped in with 14 points. 

The Hornets were paced by Vanessa Lopez with a team-high 15 points before fouling out with just under 11 minutes to play in the game. Ashley Streveler was the only other Colby player to score in double figures with 10 points. 

Colby is eliminated from title contention in it first-ever State Tournament appearance, and Melrose-Mindoro advances to the final for the second year in a row after making its first State appearance last season.

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