The Bangor High School girls basketball team needed something big when its biggest player — Emma Wittmershaus — had to walk off the Resch Center floor in Green Bay with three fouls midway through the first half of a WIAA Division 5 championship game against Black Hawk on Saturday.
The Cardinals led the top-ranked Warriors by six points, but holding the lead while facing the defensive pressure Black Hawk was applying wasn’t going to be easy with Wittmershaus, who was helping move the ball up the floor before floating into the post.
Bangor senior Jaclynn Freit was ready for the challenge that was presented and responded with a 15-rebound effort that will never get lost in the story of the Cardinals’ 39-29 state-championship victory.
Freit only took five shots in the 29 minutes she played against Black Hawk, but she ripped down three offensive rebounds and 12 defensive rebounds as Bangor (26-3) held off the Warriors (28-1), who entered the game averaging 67.3 points and winning games by an average of 40 points.
“Jackie has always come through at big times when we needed her to,” Bangor coach Merlin Jones said. “She pulled down some big rebounds and drew a charge near the end that fouled out one of their key players that helped, too.”
Freit’s two games at the state tournament included 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting, and she made 2 of the 4 attempts she took from the 3-point line. Of equal or more importance, she pulled down 23 rebounds to go with three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
“I have all the confidence in the world in her,” said Wittmershaus, a UW-Milwaukee recruit who sat the last 7 minutes of the first half and finished with nine points and nine rebounds. “It wasn’t good when I got those fouls, but we’re fine if she’s out there.”
Freit made a significant play just after Wittmershaus was called for her third foul and Black Hawk’s Natalie Leuzinger nailed a 3-pointer to get the Warriors within 14-9.
A steal by Courtney Oesterle led to a missed layup by Ashlie Lockington, but Freit was there for the long rebound and followed it with a 3-pointer.
“The good thing about our team is that we can go pretty deep with our bench,” Freit said. “I don’t think there was too much concern (with Wittmershaus’ fouls).
“We just had to keep playing as a team.”