The Tomah High School girls basketball team engineered a monumental comeback, but it was a smaller comeback by Wisconsin Rapids that decided the outcome.
Wisconsin Rapids ended the game with a 9-0 run over the final two minutes and handed the Timberwolves a 53-47 nonconference defeat Tuesday in Tomah.
It was Tomah’s first loss of the season after opening with five straight victories.
Tomah erased an early 20-3 deficit and seemingly had control after Madison Lindauer’s driving layup gave the Timberwolves a 47-44 lead with 4:20 left. However, those were Tomah’s final points. The Timberwolves had several excellent chances to build on their 3-point cushion until the Red Raiders’ Vanessa Vechinski drained a 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining that tied the game at 47-47.
Wisconsin Rapids scored on its next two possessions, and Maddie Paitel clinched the game by making two foul shots with 19 seconds left.
Tomah coach Mark Von Haden said his team expended a lot of energy to emerge from its first half hole.
“We needed one more shot to fall, and that game is ours,” Von Haden said. “It was a Catch 22 − you work so hard to get the lead and you’re almost too tired at the end to finish it off.”
Von Haden called two timeouts in the first 7 ½ minutes of the first half as the Red Raiders built their early lead.
“We didn’t make any baskets right away, and we had some sloppy defense,” Von Haden said.
The Red Raiders still led 28-11 with 3:28 left in the first half, but their advantage shrunk dramatically when Tomah’s Emma Liek drilled three 3-pointers in a 100-second span to slice the gap to 29-22.
Tomah opened the second half with a 7-0 run that tied the game at 31-31 and took its first lead when Alexis Spiers made one of two foul shots to give the Timberwolves a 45-44 edge.
Lindauer and Liek combined for 42 of Tomah’s 47 points. Wisconsin Rapids did an excellent job of preventing Lindauer from getting into the lane.
“People are going to stop Maddie from driving, and girls just need to step up and hit some shots,” Von Haden said. “We’re young. We have to work out the kinks a little bit.”
The contest was Tomah’s second in two nights. On Monday, the Timberwolves defeated Black River Falls 49-32. Lindauer scored 24 points, and Liek added 13.
Tomah travels to La Crosse Central Friday for its Mississippi Valley Conference opener. The next home game is Tuesday, Dec. 11 against MVC rival La Crosse Logan in a 7:15 p.m. tipoff.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS 53 TOMAH 47
Wisconsin Rapids—Abbott 2, Kohls 6, Martin 4, Huglen 6, Vechinski 12, King 4, Paitel 19.
Tomah—Spiers 3, Lindauer 25, Whaley 2, Liek 17.
Three-point goals—Vechinski 2, Paitel 3, Lindauer 4, Liek 3.
Wis Rapids 31 22 − 53
Tomah 24 23 − 47