Prep girls basketball: Superior stunned by Wausau West in regional final

The Warriors rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to advance to the sectional semifinals.

Player kneels with hands in face as other celebrate around her.
Superior’s Emma Raye falls to her knees as Wausau West rushes the court after upsetting the Spartans 54-51 to claim the WIAA regional championship in Superior on Saturday evening, Feb. 25.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — Superior’s Emma Raye saw time was running down with the Spartans trailing Wausau West by three in the Wisconsin regional final Saturday.

Raye had a good look at a long 3-pointer, but the shot clanged off the rim and Superior fell 54-51 to the Warriors.

Raye finished with a game-high 21 points, but a combination of factors — including some coaching errors Spartans coach Dave Kontny attributed to himself — allowed Wausau West to rally from a 28-18 halftime deficit and advance to the sectional semifinal.

Player in white gets fouled as she shoots.
Superior’s Ava Stratton (24) gets fouled by Wausau West’s Alexis White (22) in the first half of the Spartans regional final loss in Superior on Saturday evening, Feb. 25.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“I don’t know if I can put a finger on one thing,” Kontny said. “They got some looks inside, they were outrebounding us and getting second chances, but I made some errors. I stayed in the defense too long, when I changed it I thought we did a nice job after that. I didn’t do a good job coaching tonight. The kids played their hearts out, I could have done a much better job — blame it on me.”

The Warriors faced an 11-point halftime deficit against Appleton East Friday, but came back for a 73-70 victory to advance to the play the Spartans.


“Last night, we were down, they came fighting back and they gutted it out, which is great,” Wausau West coach Tom Weinkauf said. “I told them, ‘Hey seniors, this could be your last game unless you do something about it,’ and they came out and, obviously, played much better in the second half and extremely hard.”

Player in white shoots layup.
Superior’s Eva Peterson (23) gets fouled by Wausau West’s Molly Anderson (30) in the first half of the Spartans regional final loss in Superior on Saturday evening, Feb. 25.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The Warriors went on a 26-9 run to start the second half and took a 44-37 lead, but Superior mounted its own rally.

Ava Stratton hit a 3-pointer and Savannah Leopold found Eva Peterson rolling to the basket for an easy layup before Raye hit a pair of free throws to tie the game.

Superior eventually took a 51-48 lead, but the Warriors’ Kenzie Deaton was fouled. She hit the first half of the one-and-one, but a long rebound was wrangled by Ayla Christensen, who hit a baseline 3-pointer to put Wausau West up by one.

Player in white dribbles around player in blue.
Superior’s Savannah Leopold (20) drives on the Wausau West defense in the second half of the Spartans' regional final loss in Superior on Saturday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Kloe Zentkowski tied up Deaton below the Spartans basket to give Superior the ball back, but Kontny said he called a play he shouldn’t have.

"I second-guessed myself at the end and ran a play we hadn’t practiced a lot and that’s on me,” Kontny said. “I should have just gone with my gut feeling and I didn’t.”

Alexis White hit a pair of free throws on the other end to set up Raye’s desperation heave.

Player in white forces a jump ball.
Superior’s Kloe Zentkowski (13) ties up Wausau West’s Kenzie Deaton (5) to force a jump ball in the second half of the Spartans regional final loss in Superior on Saturday evening, Feb. 25.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Despite the disappointing end, Superior (21-3) had a memorable season they can be proud of, Kontny said.


“The kids did their best — it was a great season,” Kontny said. “They don’t have anything to hang their heads about, not a lot of teams are winning 21 games. We’re disappointed we’re not moving on, but it was a great season and a great group of kids. They gave me everything every day.”

Players cry as they hug.
Superior’s Emma Raye (34) hugs fellow senior Savannah Leopold (20) after the Spartans fell to Wausau West in the regional final in Superior on Saturday evening, Feb. 25, 2023.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Wausau West 18-36—54

Superior 28-23—51

Wausau West — Kelly Kray 9, Kenzie Deaton 15, Ayla Christensen 7, Alexis White 9, Molly Anderson 14. Totals 21 7-11 54.

3-point goals — Deaton, Christensen, White.

Superior — Annabel Manion 2, Kloe Zentkowski 7, Savannah Leopold 3, Eva Peterson 14, Ava Stratton 4, Emma Raye 21. Totals 15 14-19 51.

3-point goals — Zentkowski 2, Leopold, Peterson 2, Stratton, Raye.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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