Crandon falls in state semifinals; remainder of winter tournament series canceled
By Rich Palzewic
Press Times Sports Editor
GREEN BAY – With about 300 fans in attendance at the Resch Center in Green Bay due to fears of COVID-19, the Crandon girls’ basketball team had a memorable experience March 12 at the WIAA Division 4 state tournament.
Even though the Cardinals lost a 73-42 game to La Crosse Aquinas in the state semifinals, the memories will last a lifetime.
“I’m proud of my girls, especially the seniors,” said Crandon head coach Keegan Kincaid. “We had a good game plan against a top-notch team in Aquinas, but I think we were down on speed compared to them.”
In an unprecedented move, the WIAA limited each team to approximately 110 fans/personnel to attend.
Also, only preapproved media members and those deemed essential to the administration of the tournament were permitted.
Kincaid said it was surreal to play under such circumstances.
“It was difficult – not only for the players but for the community,” he said. “The state tournament can change the dynamic of your community, and they were disappointed they couldn’t join us. I know they had a big party back home cheering us on in the gym and the local restaurants around town.”
Later in the night, the WIAA canceled the rest of the girls’ state tournament and the boys’ tournament series.
“I want the student-athletes and their coaches to know your school leaders, the WIAA executive staff, our committees and the board of control did everything to try to preserve these opportunities for you,” Executive Director Dave Anderson said in a released statement. “However, we want and need to be responsible for helping the global and state efforts to stem the tide and spread of this virus.”
As for the semifinal game against the No. 1 state-ranked Blugolds, the Cardinals (21-5) bolted out to an 8-5 lead after Lynzee McGeshick nailed a three-pointer from the right-wing, forcing a timeout three minutes into the contest.
From there, Aquinas ended the first half by outscoring Crandon 36-17, taking a 16-point lead into halftime.
“Even down 16 at the half, not many teams stayed that close to Aquinas,” Kincaid said. “We had good energy in the second half to cut the lead to nine points, but we ran out of gas.”
Tabitha Renkas led the Cardinals with 12 points and also pulled down five rebounds and dished out five assists.
“It was lots of fun,” Renkas said. “I didn’t want it to be my last game, but Aquinas is a good team. I left it all out on the court.”
Renkas echoed Kincaid’s thoughts about the difficulty of the day.
“I didn’t let it bother me because I knew everyone was at home watching,” she said. “The most difficult part for me was choosing who came to watch. Our fans were loud.”
Mara Stamper added nine points for Crandon, which didn’t score a field goal during the last four minutes of the game.
The Blugolds were led by Division I Iowa State commit Lexi Donarski and Taylor Theusch, who each scored 23 points in the victory.
Theusch hit a state-record seven three-pointers in her 35 minutes of play.