The Tomah High School girls basketball team has lost just four of 14 games this season, but the losses all have the same pattern: fall behind early, mount a spirited comeback, come up short at the end.
Tomah followed the same script against a very good Onalaska team in a 56-48 loss Mississippi Valley Conference loss Tuesday at Tomah High School. Tomah erased most of a large deficit in the second half before Onalaska held off the Timberwolves at the foul line.
Tomah coach Mark Von Haden admired his team for not giving up after the first half.
“I’m so proud of their effort,” Von Haden said. “We just can’t get over that hump at the end of the game when we dig ourselves a hole.”
The Timberwolves found themselves behind 33-16 at halftime but started the second half with a 10-2 run that energized the team and its fans.
The contest got really close after Lexi Spiers drained back-to-back 3-pointers that cut Onalaska’s lead to 42-38 with 7:12 left.
Onalaska’s Olivia Gamoke countered with a pair of 3-pointers, but Spiers drained another 3-pointer that left Onalaska clinging to a 52-47 lead with 1:21 left. The Hilltoppers maintained their lead by making four of six foul shots in the final 61 seconds.
Von Haden said Spiers’ 3-pointers were critical to Tomah’s comeback. She finished with 13 points.
“Those were some big baskets we got from her,” Von Haden said. “That’s quite an accomplishment against a really good team.”
The Timberwolves also got a big effort from Madison Lindauer, who scored Tomah’s first 12 points and finished with 21 while playing the entire contest. Von Haden is impressed with how Lindauer has carried the scoring and ballhandling load after the season-ending injury to Madisyn Brey, who was expected to be Tomah’s second-leading scorer.
“They had a different girl on (Lindauer) every time she brought the ball upcourt,” Von Haden said. “She goes 36 minutes, and the only time she gets a break is when we call timeout.”
The Timberwolves also got a promising game from sophomore center Alyssa Whaley, who finished with five points.
“She has the potential − we’re rolling in the right direction with her,” Von Haden said. “If she slows down, she can be such a good post player. We’re just scratching the surface with her.”
Whaley was part of an effective interior defense that held the Hilltoppers to just five field goals in the second half.
“We have to be happy with our defensive effort in the second half,” Von Haden said.
Gamoke led all scorers with 25 points and made all seven of her free throws. She was the only Onalaska player to convert a field goal after halftime.
The Timberwolves return to MVC action Friday with a home matchup against La Crosse Aquinas, ranked first in Division 4. Tipoff is 6:15 p.m. and is the first half of a girls/boys varsity doubleheader.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONALASKA 56 TOMAH 48
Onalaska—Gamoke 25, L. Miller 11, K. Miller 7, Arenz 1, Wick 3, Garrity 9.
Tomah—Spiers 13, Lindauer 21, Wagenson 2, Whaley 5, Liek 7.
Three-point goals—Gamoke, 2, L. Miller, K. Miller, Spiers 3, Lindauer.
Onalaska 33 23−56
Tomah 16 32−48