KEWAUNEE - The Kewaunee and Notre Dame girls basketball teams reached the state tournament last season in different divisions and Kewaunee brought home a gold ball.
Tuesday, the teams met in a high-profile nonconference game, which served as a perfect tune-up for the fast-approaching postseason.
Kewaunee, ranked No. 3 in the FOX 11 Top 11 girls basketball poll, and No. 9 Notre Dame each have two of the best 1-2-3 punches in the area and which side could calm down the other's scoring trio would likely come out on top. The Kewaunee trio of Alex Richard, Kelsey Stangel and Jill Kleiman scored 39 points, while Notre Dame's threesome of Allie LeClaire, Brianna Byrne and Eliza Campbell tallied 33.
The Storm's ability to contain Notre Dame's threesome was just enough as it recorded a 51-47 win. Kewaunee moved to 17-1 on the season and the lone blemish is a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Algoma.
"We knew it was going to be a grinding game," Kewaunee coach Lynn Geier said. "They have a really nice team. It was going to be possession by possession."
The Storm, like Notre Dame, has many scoring options and Tuesday it was Richard leading the way. The post player controlled the inside, getting good post position as she led all scorers with 20 points.
"You really don't know what you're going to get in the middle, but she was a really good presence in the middle," Geier said. "The girls saw her and made passes to her."
Stangel added 10 points.
"They were definitely double-teaming Jill, which meant we were open.," Richard said. "Me and Kel work real well together; we're related. It comes natural."
Meanwhile, Kewaunee's defense allowed 47 points, which was the second-most all season, but it still was solid. The most intriguing matchup of the game was LeClaire against Kleiman.
Both are defensive stoppers and can do many things on offense. Both teams contained the oppposing point guard, but the first half the Storm limited LeClaire to zero points on two shots. She had more fouls (two) than points.
"It was a plus to hold LeCLaire to nothing in the first half," Geier said. "We knew she would be hungry in the second half. She's a super ball player."
LeClaire ended with 13 points, while Byrne had 11 and Campbell nine. But none of them exploded, which Geier was leery of.
"LeClaire, (Campbell) and (Byrne), they have really good balance and knew any one of them could explode," Geier said. "They're good shooters."
Richard was impressed with Kleiman's defense.
"When we were watching film, coach said, 'This is the best player you're going to see,'" Richard said. "Jill took care of her very well. She barely got down to me."
Kewaunee's win ends a four-game stretch in which the Storm played Algoma, Lourdes Academy, Roncalli and Notre Dame - four teams with at least 13 wins this season. All were wins and all were tests, which Geier was pleased about.
Conference games, at times, don't challenge teams like Kewaunee, so this stretch against three nonconference opponents (Algoma the only Packerland foe) was perfect, especially with the regular season winding down.
"I feel like we're getting better," Richard said. "To go against these teams is exciting."
"The teams we are playing are pushing us," Geier said. "I told (Notre Dame coach) Sara Boyer before the game I was glad to get them on the schedule, especially this time of year to get us prepared for the postseason."
The defending Division 3 state champs look prepared and ready again to make a deep postseason run.
- 3-pointers: LeClaire fouled out. ... Richard's 20 points were two shy of her season-high of 22. ... The biggest lead in the game was seven points by Kewaunee.
- Game ball: Richard, who couldn't be stopped by Notre Dame.
- Numbers game: 13 Straight wins for Kewaunee.
(3)KEWAUNEE 51, (9)NOTRE DAME 47
Notre Dame...12 8 16 11 — 47
Kewaunee......8 17 13 13 — 51
Notre Dame (14-6): Olivia Campbell 3, Brianna Byrne 11, Eliza Campbell 9, Anika Johnson 8, Allie LeClaire 13, Katherine Nixon 3. 3-pointers: 4 (Byrne 1, E. Campbell 1, O. Campbell 1, LeClaire 1). Turnovers: 18. Totals: 20 3-5 47.
Kewaunee (17-1): Amanda Bultman 4, Alex Richard 20, Jill Kleiman 9, Kelsey Stangel 10, Kiley Heim 4. 3-pointers: 2 (Stangel 1, Kleiman 1). Turnovers: 13. Totals: 20 9-12 51.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
Two Oshkosh North players had to be taken off the field in ambulances after colliding in the Division 2 championship game Friday, but their injuries apparently are not as serious as first thought.
Despite all its dominance this season Shiocton entered Thursday's Division 6 state title football game with a healthy respect for Darlington.
Gov. Scott Walker still won't say whether he will sign a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.