Crofton Tops Wolfpack At C2-5 District Finals

NORFOLK — On a night when the Wolfpack needed to play their best basketball, Crofton said “no.”
Four-time defending state champions, the Warriors played a flawless game at both ends of the floor to defeat Elgin Public-Pope John 59 to 33 to claim the C2-5 district crown and a berth in the girls state tournament which begins Thursday in Lincoln.
Jenna Parks scored the Wolfpack’s first basket, but precious few would follow for the rest of the game as EPPJ made less than 25 percent of their field goal attempts (11 of 46), thanks in large part to Crofton’s defensive pressure.
Warrior defenders rushed the Wolfpack into errant shots in the first half. By the time the Wolfpack settled into the game, the Warriors held an insurmountable lead.
The Wolfpack managed just six points in the opening quarter as Crofton took a 19 to 6 lead.
Crofton (22-3) scored the first nine points of the second quarter to take a 28 to 6 lead. Sophomore Lydia Behnk broke the run with a putback basket with 3:43 to go before halftime. Parks drilled a trey at the three-minute mark, that would be the last points for EPPJ as Crofton took a 30 to 11 lead.
Much of the Wolfpack’s woes in the first half could be directly attributed to Crofton’s pressure defense. From the start they used a full-court press, forcing the Wolfpack to work hard to move the ball past the mid-court line. Coach Aaron Losing’s strategy worked as the pressure took the Wolfpack out of their game which, in turn, resulted in errant shots and turnovers.
Any chance to seize momentum at the start of the second half vanished as Crofton’s Katie Petersen scored back-to-back baskets in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter.
Ally Wemhoff’s two free throws got the Wolfpack on the scoreboard, Parks followed with two field goals and Baylee Wemhoff added a free throw to account for the Wolfpack’s scoring in the third quarter as they fell behind 43 to 18.
The fourth quarter was the Wolfpack’s best as their play more resembled that of earlier in the season which produced 19 victories.
Baylee Wemhoff slashed through the lane for a traditional three-point play, then nailed a trey to highlight a 15-point quarter by the Wolfpack. Jordan Mescher added three free throws and Katie Polk came off the bench to score the Wolfpack’s last two-point basket of the game.
“Overall I thought we played a great defensive game.  In a half court set I thought the girls battled and made things difficult for Crofton.  They just scored too much on transition and offensive rebounds.  One thing we talked about was that we did not want to get off to a slow start in which we did.
“Everything they shot went in and it was the opposite for us.  The girls though fought through the whole game and played their hearts out.  Always tough to lose these games but the girls should be proud of the season we had,” Coach Randy Eisenhauer said about the game.
Petersen led all scorers with 25 points, Monica Arens was the only other double-digit scorer for Crofton with 11 points.
Parks and Baylee Wemhoff each had nine points to lead the Wolfpack.
The loss ended the Wolfpack’s season with a 19-8 record.
Crofton 59, Wolfpack 33
Wolfpack…….6    5    7   15 — 33
Warriors…….19  11  13  16 — 59
Crofton — Breanna Allen 1-7 2-4 5, Brittany Guenther 3-5 0-0 9, Haley Arens 0-1 1-2 1, Josie Sanger 0-2 2-2 2, Monica Arens 4-13 2-2 11, Kelsey Sanger 2-5 2-2 6, Katie Petersen 12-18 1-1 25, Mariah Bendiger 0-1 0-0 0. Team totals: 22-53 10-13 59.
Wolfpack — Liz Selting 0-9 0-0 0, Jenna Parks 4-13 0-3 9, Lydia Behnk 3-5 0-0 6, Jordan Mescher 0-8 3-4 3, Jill Schindler 0-1 0-0 0, Baylee Wemhoff 2-10 4-5 9, Allyson Wemhoff 1-5 1-2 4, Katie Polk 1-1 0-0 2. Team totals: 11-51 8-14 33.
Team statistics — Three-point shots – Wolfpack 3-17, Crofton 5-18. Rebounds – Wolfpack 28 (Liz Selting 9, Jenna Parks 9), Crofton 41. Assists – Wolfpack 6 (Jenna Parks 2), Crofton 17. Steals – Wolfpack 12 (Ally Wemhoff 5), Crofton 7. Turnovers – Wolfpack 20, Crofton 16.