Wolfpack, Heartland Evenly Matched In Opening Round Of State Tournament

Two teams, each looking to make history at the Girls State Basketball Tournament, will face each other in the opening round Thursday.
Elgin Public-Pope John (19-4) will face Heartland (21-4) Thursday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. at Lincoln Southwest High School. The game marks the first-ever appearances for both teams. Heartland comes in as the #3 seed, the Wolfpack are the #6 seed.
“It’s a great milestone to be part of.  It has been a long journey to reach this milestone but a journey I will never forget,” Coach Randy Eisenhauer said Monday. “We have had many great Wolfpack teams and this team finally broke through and achieved a life long goal.  I have to credit the girls throughout the years to believe in what we do and keep working for their goals.  All of the kids you have went through the program have molded what we do now.  Without everybody working together, this journey/milestone would not be attainable.”
Heartland earned their ticket to state by defeating Fullerton 41 to 38 in the D1-4 district final at Aurora. At one time, they led Fullerton by 13 points, then saw the Warriors tie the game at 38-all with 1:05 left. The Huskies then scored five points in the final minute to take the victory. They are coached by Greg Veerhusen.
The Wolfpack fell to North Central in the subdistrict final. They qualified for state by receiving one of two wild card berths, the other wild card went to Pender.
According to Wolfpack senior Baylee Wemhoff, she and her teammates are looking forward to Thursday’s matchup, their first game in two weeks.
“We were pretty excited,” Wemhoff said about learning Saturday night they had made it to state. “There were a lot of happy tears, a lot of screaming. We were all together, coming back from the boys game. When we learned that North Central had won, there were big hugs and screaming, we were all in tears.”
Wemhoff said Heartland is “very comparable to us” in their style of play. Noting that the Huskies have good outside shooters, she said she and her teammates are very confident they can play with Heartland.
The motto for the team this season has been to stay hungry and that’s what they intend to do in Lincoln. “We’re going down there to take care of some business,” she said.
The schools had two common opponents during the season (Fullerton and Riverside), the Wolfpack and Huskies each won both games. Heartland defeated Riverside 52 to 26 on Jan. 5, and defeated Fullerton 41 to 38 on Feb. 24. The Wolfpack defeated Riverside 61 to 25 on Dec. 10, then one month later claimed a come-from-behind 59 to 53 victory over Fullerton on Jan. 10.
The Huskies are led in scoring by Kate Gergen, averaging nearly 13 points per game, Taylor Quiring and Bailey Peters each average 11 points per game.
“Heartland is a very good team.  They are a team that likes to get up and down the floor as quick as possible.  They are a very good defensive team that likes to put a lot of pressure on other teams,” Eisenhauer said.
The Huskies averaged 49 points per game and allowed 37 points per game. In contrast, the Wolfpack averaged 54 points per game and allowed 37 points per game.
Both teams like the three-point shot. Heartland made 95 during the season, the Wolfpack connected on 108.
The Wolfpack are led in scoring by sophomore Allyson Wemhoff, averaging 12 points per game, Baylee Wemhoff averaged 10 per game and Jordan Mescher averaged nine per game, Lydia Behnk and Elizabeth Selting each averaged eight per game.
Behnk leads in rebounds (6.5 per game), Selting averaged 5.5 per game.
Teammate Baylee Wemhoff leads the team in assists, averaging 4.5 per game.