New Berlin Eisenhower used an 18-4 run in the first half to defeat Catholic Memorial, 50-25, and coach Gary Schmidt and his players now look forward to Saturday's regional final game at Pewaukee in what will be one of the area's most high-profile clashes.
The Crusaders (7-17) shot well early in the game and only trailed Eisenhower, 15-13, at the 8 minute, 52 second mark, when the Lions went on a 7-0 run. That turned into an 18-4 stretch which gave Ike a 33-17 lead at halftime
"We got off to a nice little start," CMH coach Therese Dejewski said. "But we had a hard time finding opportunities to score as the game went along. Then we had to play catch up, and they are a hard team to play catch up against."
Katie Ludwig opened the first run by hitting 1-of-2 free throws, and then the star of the night, Hannah Plockelman, scored on a drive, part of her 12-point performance. Ludwig scored on a fastbreak, and Julia Hintz scored on a steal for a 22-13 lead.
Catholic Memorial's Kathleen Hirsch hit two free throws, but Hintz nailed a long 3-pointer, Plockelman scored on a drive and Ludwig hit Jasmyn Somarsingh with a beautiful pass for a layup and a 29-15 advantage at the 3:21 mark.
"We tried to switch up the defense a little bit, and we did a good job," Dejewski said. "But then they were able to come up with offensive rebounds and putbacks. It's tough, but we needed to do a better job with defensive possession."
Coach Gary Schmidt, happy to get the first playoff win under his belt, was pleased with his team's work on the glass.
"We really emphasized not giving them second shots," he said. "They came out and got hot right out of the chute. They had a lot of confidence, which I give them a lot of credit for. I thought we defended very well tonight. We were very active on defense. All in all, our kids want to play defense because they know that's what going to win games for us.
"And our offense was very crisp tonight, too. I was hoping to play a good game so we could get ready for Pewaukee."
Plockelman had 6 points to close out the run in the first half.
"I think we were just moving the ball better as a team," the 5-11 forward said. "Making stronger cuts and focusing more and just playing together. (In the second half), we just wanted to keep getting rebounds and not give them any second looks; getting the ball in transition and just working the ball."
Hintz (15 points) deflected a lot of the credit to Plockelman.
"Hannah picked it up so much, and she was a huge part of this," the Lions leading scorer said. "I can't wait until tomorrow, and hopefully, she can do it again. She was just awesome to play with. I think we're ready for tomorrow."
Schmidt agreed with his star sophomore.
"I think Hannah is so athletic," he said of Plockelman. "I think she is one of the best defensive players in the state. She can also get to the hoop almost any time. She has a good vertical jump. She's huge to u,s and when she can contribute 12 points, that's just a plus. It was a breakout game for her, and I hope it continues tomorrow night."