BURRTON — Macksville High School’s girls have earned a reputation as the ultimate underdog after back-to-back upset basketball victories.
Macksville rallied from a 9-point deficit to shock Pretty Prairie 32-29 in Friday’s Class 1A Division-I Burrton sub-state. The Lady Mustangs started their post-season party with a 52-51 upset over Fairfield.
“Right now, we’re 2-0, and that’s all that matters,” said Macksville head coach Steve Plantz. “After how well we played Tuesday, I thought we’d be playing Saturday night.”
No one needed to tell the Macksville coach the Lady Mustangs would be a heavy underdog Saturday against league rival Victoria, which beat them 51-24 on Feb. 7.
Macksville’s girls last qualified for state more than 10 years ago. If the 6-16 Mustangs pull off a third upset, Macksville’s Plantz will dance all the way to Emporia.
“I think we’re getting used to being the underdog,” Plantz said.
When Pretty Prairie standout Selena Wapelhorst drew her fourth foul, scrappy Macksville seized its opportunity.
The 5-foot-11 Wapelhorst was dominating with 10 rebounds and a strong defensive presence, but the momentum switched Macksville’s way when she left after her fourth foul with 5:47 left in the third period.
Everyone wearing Macksville red believed Plantz, even after the Lady Mustangs trailed 21-12 while shooting 15 percent from the field.
“The girls wanted to be here playing in this type of game, so they had to show they deserved it,” he said. “These girls never give up. They keep flying around out there. They’ve learned to do the little things right.”
Macksville’s Sophie Filbert triggered the Mustangs’ game-changing 16-2 run with a 3-pointer. Filbert had an assist to Emma Stimatze and scored on a floater in the lane. Tara Bunker passed to Emma Stimatze for a basket. Filbert’s second 3-pointer came on a bank shot and Melissa Espino’s assist to Bunker gave Macksville a 28-23 lead.
Macksville’s Clara Closs delivered the final heroics with three fourth-quarter baskets, one off a Bunker assist. The Lady Mustangs’ 33 percent shooting the second half (9 of 27) was good enough for the victory.
“We finally got a few shots to fall,” Plantz said.
The Bulldogs had their chances. Wapelhorst passed to Shaylee Wewe, who scored the Bulldogs’ final two baskets. Wapelhorst missed a pair of 3-point attempts to tie in the final 20 seconds.
Pretty Prairie (10-11) shot 20 percent in both halves despite getting decent shots all night. The Bulldogs finished 11 of 54 from the field. Cassie Panek scored eight points and Wapelhorst added seven points.
“The girls played hard and gave it everything they had, but Macksville deserved to win tonight,” said Pretty Prairie head coach C.T. Young. “It was a night when we had a hard time making a shot. I was proud of our effort and our defense.”
The Lady Mustangs’ scrappy zone defense forced 25 Pretty Prairie turnovers.
Macksville forced several turnovers when the Bulldogs drove into traffic.
Victoria cruised past LaCrosse 54-31 in Friday’s other semifinal. Don’t think for a moment that Victoria will look past pesky Macksville despite a 27-point victory.
Victoria (12-9) will be a solid favorite to earn its first state tournament bid since 2012 in Class 1A-D-II.
LaCrosse finished with an 8-14 record.
Olivia Baus scored nine points and Marissa Wagner chipped in seven.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Class 1A D-I
Macksville 32, Pretty Prairie 29
Sophie Filbert 4-15 0-1 10; Clara Cross 3-4 2-4 8; Emma Stimatze 3-10 1-2 7; Melissa Espino 2-7 0-1 5; Tara Bunker 1-11 0-1 2; Olivia Vosburgh 0-2 0-0 0; Selena Galan 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 13-54 3-9 32.
PRETTY PRAIRIE (10-11)
Cassie Panek 4-14 0-0 8; Selena Wapelhorst 1-11 5-10 7; Shanay Wewe 3-14 0-0 6; Shaylee Wewe 2-10 0-0 4; Brandi Hollenbeck 1-1 0-0 2; Whitney Grilliot 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 11-54 7-12 29.
Macksville 6 5 10 11 — 32
LaCrosse 8 9 6 6 — 29
Three-point goals—Macksville 3 (Filbert 2, Espino 1). Rebounds—Macksville 39 (Bunker 10), PP 47 (Shanay Wewe 11). (Yohe 8). Fouls—Macksville 13, PP 15. Turnovers—Macksville 22, PP 25.