The Tomah High School senior was having one of the coldest shooting nights one could remember during her career with the girls basketball team, and the Timberwolves were trailing on the road in an ugly game.
But Lindauer decided enough was enough, found her spots, and helped her team claw back into the game. She took control on both ends, helping her defense force turnovers and turning them into breakaway layups, and the Timberwolves were able to pull out a 31-24 MVC win in front of an estimated crowd of 275 people at Mark Sutton Gymnasium.
Lindauer, who came into the game averaging more than 20 points per contest, had 14 of her game-high 16 points in the second half. She scored seven consecutive points for the Timberwolves (6-1, 1-0) during a key stretch in the second half, including free throws that gave Tomah a 23-22 lead with 2 minutes, 59 seconds to play. The Timberwolves never trailed after that point.
“I definitely need to work on my free throws,” said Lindauer, who went 8-for-11 from the line. “But I took a leadership role there.”
Tomah’s comeback from a 16-5 deficit early in the second half masked what was rough start for the offense. The Timberwolves scored first on an Ella Plueger 3-pointer with 14:27 left in the first half, but then didn’t score again until Lindauer hit free throws with 2:12 left.
Shots finally fell in the second half for Tomah, including two more 3s for Plueger and two from Lindauer, and it finished the game on a 23-6 run. Plueger finished with nine points.
“The defense played well the whole game,” Tomah coach Mark Von Haden said. “To be in the game when you only score five points in the first half is a big difference. That game could’ve easily been 24-5 and we’re done. Keeping our composure on defense was a big turning point.”
Despite being in the bonus for the final 10:08 of the game, Central went just 3 of 6 from the free-throw line, and couldn’t get enough shots to fall to stem the comeback tide.
“I wish we would’ve moved the ball better,” Central coach Quartell Roberson said. “Our execution wasn’t as good as it needed. We knew they were coming in with that 1-3-1 (zone defense), but our execution today just wasn’t there. And when we had good looks, they just didn’t go down.”
Central’s defense gave up nothing easy in the first half. The Red Raiders stayed close to Tomah’s strong outside shooters, and played physically against Lindauer.
The long scoring drought came on the strength of effective rebounding. Central didn’t allow Tomah to get easy chances off of offensive boards.
Central’s offense didn’t fare much better in the opening 18 minutes, but it did hit a few outside shots to build its lead. Sophomore Whitney Mislivecek got Central its first lead with a 3-pointer, and freshman Lily Wehrs hit one to make it 9-3 and drew a “She’s a freshman” chant from the Red Raiders student section.
Senior Avalon Miller led Central with six points, while Wehrs, Mislivecek, Ava Parcher and Heather Opitz had three apiece.
But Central didn’t have much luck inside, as Tomah’s 1-3-1 was stout in the lane and didn’t allow many driving lanes. And when the Timberwolves switched to man-to-man, Lindauer said it gave the team a boost.
“I think our man-to-man brought intensity for us. It generated some energy for us. In our 1-3-1, we can tend to get lazy. We have a couple players who can play really good defense,” Lindauer said.
“I think (the difference in the second half) was confidence, and being strong with the ball. It came down to knowing we can win against them.”