Wildcats come out hot in state semifinal win over Rebels

Blair-Taylor's Lindsay Steien raced down the court after a steal during their WIAA State Semifinal game against Wabeno/Laona on Friday. 

Kierstyn Kindschy of Blair-Taylor drove to the basket during their WIAA State Semifinal game against Wabeno/Laona on Friday. 

Samantha Kidd of Blair-Taylor drove to the basket during their WIAA State Semifinal game against Wabeno/Laona on Friday. 

As hard as they tried, nothing could prepare Wabeno/Laona for their game against Blair-Taylor in Friday’s Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division Five State Semifinal game. 

The Wildcats took control of the game early as Lindsay Steien and Abby Thompson scored inside before Kierstyn Kindschy knocked down a three pointer to put B-T ahead 7-0 and spark a W/L time out.

The Rebels got on the board, but the Wildcats kept coming. Thompson scored eight straight B-T points to put her team ahead 17-4 with 9:42 left in the first half. W/L coach Andrew Harrison said he knew the Wildcats were good, but no amount of tape or statistics could fully show his team what they would be going against.

“We knew what we were getting into, we knew they were going to be a handful,” Harrison said. “But we can’t prepare our girls for that, as best as we try… their quickness, their skill...”

Both coaches agreed that the Wildcats set the tone for the game early, which is exactly what B-T wanted. 

“We wanted to be fast, we wanted to be quick, get off to a good start, hit those open shots,” B-T coach Jesse Lien said. 

Thompson and Steien both said they take it upon themselves to get their team going.

“We’re always talking about how we want to push the ball and take control of the game right from the start,” Steien said. 

The Rebels stopped the run with a free throw, but Kierstyn Kindschy hit consecutive three pointers before Fremstad scored to put the Wildcats ahead by 20. Steien made it a 10-0 run with a basket that made the score 27-5 with about six minutes left in the half.

Thompson led the Wildcats with 18 points, while Steien added 16.

With as much attention as Steien and Thompson receive from opponents, Lien said it is important for the other players to fill their roles.

“They know when it’s time for them to stop up and hit the shot when it’s open,” Lien said. “Accepting those roles is what we walk about. Play as hard as you can when you’re on the floor, do your job and we’ll come out on top that way.”

B-T took a 31-12 lead into halftime, they struggled offensively early in the second half, but their defense didn’t allow W/L back in the game.

“Defensively, we just really like talking about getting touches, getting steals off of those touches and then the run-out,” Lien said. “That puts pressure on them to really have to work hard to get back and tires the other team out a lot.”

The Wildcats forced 24 W/L turnovers as both Thompson and Steien had six steals. 

Lien credited post players Fremstad and Andrea Waldera for helping the Wildcats keep the Rebels in check.

“Sydney was everywhere tonight,” Lien said. “She came home with a bunch of band aids and stuff on her arms and legs and she was diving for balls… Andrea is long and gets those blocks.”

Fremstad led the Wildcats with 11 rebounds, while adding five steals. Waldera blocked six shots, one shy of a state tournament game record. 

The Wildcats started one-for-seven from the field in the second half, but still held a 17-point lead before Lexi Lofgren drilled a three pointer with about 12 minutes left. 

B-T continued to build up its lead, responding to every W/L run as they pulled away to win by 29.

Next on the schedule will be Chippewa Falls McDonell Central Catholic, which advanced to the championship game with a 59-20 win over previously undefeated Albany. Lien said he knows his team will have its work cut out for it, but said the same is true for the Macks.

“We’re expecting a great game. They’re a good team, we’re a good team,” Lien said. “We just gotta work on what they’re doing best and try to stop those easy basket stoa they get…our goal is really playing our game and they have to stop us too.”

B-T (field goals/attempts-free throws/attempts-rebounds-fouls-points) — Fremstad 2/7-1/1-11-0-6 Thompson 8/19-0/0-3-0-18 Steien 5/15-5/6-4-0-16 Kindschy 3/6-0/0-3-1-9 Lofgren 2/7-0/0-7-2-5 Waldera 1/3-0/0-4-1-2 Kiddd 0/2-0/0-2-0-0 Wagner 0/0-0/0-0-1-0 L. Frederixon 0/0-0/0-0-1-0 Beck 0/0-0/1-0-0-0 

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