Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Kopp’s late dagger dims Comets

by Mike Ramczyk

February 10, 2011

Maybe it just wasn’t Emma Kopp’s night.

After all, the Delavan-Darien defense held the Badger junior guard scoreless for the first 16 minutes Friday.

What’s more is Kopp suffered a sprained ankle in warm-ups before the game.

But when it mattered most, Kopp, as all great players do, allowed adrenaline and a will to win carry her when the Lady Badgers needed her most.

She drained a corner three-pointer with 10 seconds left on the clock to lift Badger to a dramatic 41-38 comeback victory at home against the Comets.

Badger won its third straight game and fifth out of its last six, improving to 10-5 overall and 6-2 in the Southern Lakes, good for second place.

With around 20 seconds left, Kopp stole the ball near midcourt and pushed it up the floor.

After the ball was swung around nicely back to an open Kopp, she knew what to do with it.

“I knew we had to play tough defense,” Kopp said. “We went all out, and we came up with a steal there. It felt really great to knock down the three. I wasn’t on all night, and hitting the last shot of the game boosted everyone’s confidence. It was a tough game. I rolled my ankle, and it was giving me a lot of problems during the game. But I had to play through it.”

But Kopp wasn’t the only late-game hero for Badger. After Badger’s Karina Reeves was called for a charge with 39.4 seconds left, Delavan’s inbounds pass slipped through reigning SLC Player of the Year Alana Cesarz’s hands, and Badger junior Lana Wieseman was in the right place at the right time for the steal.

Without hesitation, Wieseman buried a 15-footer from the top of the key to tie the score at 38-38.

Badger had led the entire game, including 20-6 in the first half, before the Comets finally took their first lead with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter.

Four Cesarz free throws later, and the Badgers found themselves in a 38-34 hole with 1:20 remaining. However, Tristan Sproul cut the lead to 38-36 with a layup, and Delavan’s Natalie Buhler missed two foul shots to set up Wieseman’s game-tying jumper.

“I wanted to take the shot, and I didn’t think about the clock,” Wieseman said. “This year, we really go after it. Last year, we might have let a game like this slip away.”

After Badger’s 20-6 lead, Delavan embarked on a 23-10 run that trimmed Badger’s lead to one point after three quarters.

The 6-foot-2 Cesarz, a Division 1 recruit (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) who entered the game averaging 21.9 points per contest, saw consistent double and triple teams.

She was held to a mere eight points.

“We got aggressive at the end,” Badger coach David Jooss said. “We did a good job rotating and keeping the ball out of Cesarz’s hands as much as possible. We did a pretty good job on Cesarz. She’s a complete player.”

Along with the defense, Jooss was equally impressed with the team’s offensive confidence.

“They didn’t hesitate,” Jooss said of the big shots from Wieseman and Kopp. “That’s pretty impressive for two juniors to want to take those shots. Those were two big plays, and they are big-game players. I was also impressed with Reeves, who got hurt in the third quarter. I like our toughness. We’ve showed that we are going to battle to the end, and we needed to battle to the end to win this one.”

Reeves led the Badgers with 12 points, while Wieseman tallied 11. Kopp and Abby Ketchpaw each added six.