Whitewater completes perfect season with first state championship

The Division 3 state champs hoist the trophy at the Resch Center in Green Bay Saturday after defeating Appleton Xavier in the title game, 49-43. (Bob Mischka photo)
Member of the Whitewater High School girls basketball team, Division 3 state champs, hoist the trophy at the Resch Center in Green Bay Saturday after defeating Appleton Xavier in the title game, 49-43. (Bob Mischka photo)

By Heather Ruenz

It was evident from the get-go that Whitewater came into Saturday’s Division 3 state title game prepared to leave it all on the floor.

When the final buzzer sounded at the packed Resch Center in Green Bay, the Whippets had made history with their first state championship, a 49-43 triumph over Appleton Xavier.

“It’s like a dream that doesn’t seem true,” coach Judy Harms said after the win. “This year’s theme was, ‘The best way to make history is to write it’ and they did that.”

The state’s No. 1-ranked team, Whitewater, finished an unbelievable season 28-0 and on top of the basketball world. It was the school’s first state tournament appearance.

“I’m so proud of my team,” senior Sarah Schumacher said in the post-game press conference. “We wanted to do this for the whole community… The perfect season; it’s unreal.”

Her in-the-paint counterpart on the court, sophomore Myriama Smith-Traore, who had a breakout game with 17 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots, was emotional after the win.

“I’m going to miss the seniors so much,” Smith-Traore said.

Nerves didn’t seem to be an issue, though it took a couple of minutes for Whitewater to get on the scoreboard and it was clear early that both teams were going to play a physical game.

The concern early for the Whippets was that at the end of the first quarter, with Xavier up 13-12, Sarah Schumacher and Kailey Reynolds each had two fouls with a lot more basketball to be played.

Xavier started the second quarter hot and took its biggest lead of the game, 17-12, but Whitewater’s shots began to fall.

Reynolds hit a three, Smith-Traore converted a three-point play and Sarah Schumacher drove in for a hoop that she followed with a 3-point play. Suddenly, the Whippets erased their deficit and enjoyed a 25-22 halftime lead.

Coming out of the locker room, it quickly became clear that Whitewater intended to pick up the pace and the intensity. The Whippets increased their aggressiveness on defense and put even more effort into the battle of the boards on both ends of the court.

Whitewater fell behind, 35-33, with two minutes left in the third, but Rebekah Schumacher’s jumper found the net to tie things up at 35-35 heading into the fourth.

Smith-Traore was solid in the third period, swishing four of four foul shots and leading Whitewater with six points.

The teams went back and forth for much of the fourth quarter, but Smith-Traore drove in on a layup at the three-minute mark and gave Whitewater the lead for good.

Sarah Schumacher led the Whippets with 18 points.

Rebekah Schumacher and Reynolds each added six points.

Pick up the March 19 issue of the Whitewater Register for full coverage of Whitewater’s state tournament run, including photos by Bob and Peter Mischka.

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