The McDonell girls basketball team will make its first-ever appearance in a WIAA state tournament on Thursday when the Macks square off against Wisconsin Rapids Assumption in a Division 5 state semifinal matchup at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse.
The Macks are in a WIAA state tournament for the first time after moving from WISAA in 2000 but are not the only girls basketball program making its state debut.
Germantown and Westfield are also making their state debuts. Westfield (19-5) is the No. 4 seed in the Division 3 tournament and squares off with No. 1 La Crosse Aquinas (21-0) with the first semifinal on Friday at 10:45 a.m. at Menomoniee Nation Arena in Oshkosh, while Germantown (27-1) is the top seed in the Division 1 field and face Verona (8-4) in the first semifinal at the same time on Saturday in Oshkosh.
The McDonell girls basketball team has earned a No. 2 seed for the upcoming Division 5 state…
Among programs back at state, Fall Creek is the most experienced as the Crickets are making their 12th trip to state and the first since finishing runner-up in Division 4 in 2015. The Crickets (15-4) are a No. 4 seed in the Division 4 field and face top-seeded Mishicot (18-2) at 9:05 a.m. on Friday in La Crosse with the winner advancing to play in the state championship match on Friday night against the winner of the Bangor (18-2) vs Mineral Point (16-5) semifinal.
Big Rivers Conference champion Hudson is back at state for the first time since 2003 and is a No. 2 seed in Division 1. The Raiders (22-0) face No. 3 Franklin (15-5) at 2:10 p.m. in the second of two semifinals on Saturday in Oshkosh with the semifinals winners matching up at 8:15 p.m. on the same day for the title.
The McDonell girls basketball team qualified for its first-ever WIAA Division 5 state tournament on Saturday after a 72-53 victory over Prairie Farm in a sectional final showdown.
For the McDonell program, it marks the second time in history it has advanced to a state tournament and the first time in 21 years after the Macks made it all the way to the WISAA Division 2 state title game in 2000.
McDonell earned a 45-43 win over Manitowoc Roncalli in the semifinals at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee to advance to the title game before falling to Whitefish Bay Dominican 43-20 in the championship game. Melissa Haley had a team-high 12 points while Katie Moga and Molly Harings had eight points apiece in the semifinal victory. Haley scored eight points in the championship game for the Macks led by coach Matt Lokemoen.
The program has been one win away from state on two occasions since moving to the WIAA. The first came in 2012 when coach Shannon Tanzer guided the Macks to the sectional finals before a 50-41 loss to Seneca in La Crosse. The Macks returned to the sectional finals three years later in coach Don Cooper’s first season as head coach but ran into a South Shore team led by future two-time Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in Megan Gustafson. The future WNBA draft pick scored 48 points as the Cardinals edged the Macks 59-55 in Spooner.
“We’re really thankful that we get to represent the teams that came really close but never were able to get there,” senior Anna Geissler said.
The McDonell girls basketball team made a season-high 12 3-pointers and played tenacious defense to push past Northwood 50-35 on Thursday evening, advancing to Saturday's sectional finals.
Juniors Destiny and Laneyse Baughman saw their older brother Hayden play in three state tournaments for the McDonell boys basketball team in 2016-18, winning a Division 5 championship in 2016 and finishing runner-up in 2018.
Hayden is the boys program’s career scoring leader and averaged 14.4 points per game in his five appearances at state and the sisters are excited to get to join their older brother as being able to play on the state stage.
Both have been important players for the Macks this season, especially on defense. Destiny had 12 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes in Saturday’s 72-53 sectional championship win at Prairie Farm while Laneyse scored five points and had two steals in 10 minutes of action.
Experience in the fall
While the girls basketball program hasn’t been to a state tournament of any kind in more than two decades, many athletes on the team are familiar with it from their experience in the fall with the volleyball team.
Seven players on the Macks’ state roster this week were also on the roster in the fall as McDonell made it to the Division 4 state championship game before falling in straight sets to Burlington Catholic Central.