onpackerland
Wow, what a great year of sports it has been in the Packerland Conference! I just thought I should take a few moments and reflect on some of the best (games, plays, etc.) that I witnessed from this past year, and take quick look forward to next year. With not being in the area for most of the year, I am limited on who and what I am able to see, so these are far from all inclusive. Thus, people are more than welcome to add, share, and discuss their favorite moments from the past year.
Following Wisconsin sports from the Keweenaw.

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onpackerland
Best Tournament Moments
1.         Kewaunee girls basketball winning state ? How can I go with anything but a state championship? These girls have been preparing for this for years, and they were clutch in winning Kewaunee?s first girls state championship. The team was never the flashiest, but they came out and dominated opponents through their offensive balance and suffocating mixture of size and athleticism in half-court defense.

2.         Algoma softball state appearance ? This team was faced with adversity even before the season started, losing All-State center fielder Taylor Schmidt to injury and not having Tanika Jorgenson being able to be the main pitcher for the second straight year. Regardless, Courtney Dart led this young team to conference and sectional wins, giving the program loads of confidence going forward. Overall, coaches and players on down the line, just a joy to follow and watch their exciting season lead all the way down to Madison.

3.         N.E.W. Lutheran volleyball regional victory/sectional appearance ? A very personal one for me, as I have been involved with this program for the past few years. While it has been quite possibly the most successful program at N.E.W. in the past eight years, it was going on four years without a sectional appearance. After a long season it was great to see this very young team accomplish this and give them something to build on going into next year.
Following Wisconsin sports from the Keweenaw.

The Chicago Blackhawks (and their fans) are to the NHL what the St. Louis Cardinals (and their fans) are to MLB.

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onpackerland
Best Games
1.         Southern Door at Algoma, softball ? One of those all too rare of days when two teams tied for the conference lead meet on the last day of the season. Not only the two best teams in the conference, but both ranked in the top five of their respective divisions coming into the game. The game more than lived up to the hype, starting as a pitcher?s duel of seniors Dantoin and Dart, and finishing with plenty of excitement. Southern Door jumped out a 2-0 lead, but Algoma got single tallies in the 6th and 7th to send the game into extras. In the 8th inning, it was Algoma?s seniors going out and winning the game, with Pieschek turning a great double play in the top half and Dart?s base running in the bottom half making the conference championship difference.

2.         Algoma vs. Kewaunee, girls basketball ? I was able to go to the first game, and have never seen an atmosphere so electric. Kewaunee?s gym was absolutely packed with fans, video cameras, and even the UWGB women?s basketball team. While the game itself was a bit of a disappointment from an officiating and poor play standpoint, that atmosphere rivaled state in my opinion. I imagine the atmosphere was much the same for the second game, only that one had a different twist. It was the first game Algoma played without Taylor Schmidt, and after a neck and neck first three quarters, the Wolves pulled away, showing they were still a force to be reckoned with, even without the reigning conference player of the year.

3.         Algoma vs. Beaver Dam, girls basketball ? These two highly ranked teams met in the championship game of the Ashwaubenon Tournament. You could feel the intensity from the start of warmups ? and that carried through the entire game. Neither team led by much more than 5 points through the first three quarters, with Beaver Dam jumping out to a seven point lead early in the fourth. But that?s when Algoma?s defense ratcheted it up another level, not allowing Beaver Dam to stall and forcing one turnover/bad shot after another in route to coming back and winning the game and tournament.

4.         Algoma vs. Oshkosh Lourdes, girls basketball ? The game had been lightly penciled in to the brackets for months before, and it lived up to the expectations. After a tight first half, Lexy Petermann came out and dominated the third quarter, all but leaving the Wolves for dead. But once again Algoma battled back to take the lead before Petermann hit a step back three to get Lourdes back on top for good. A solemn ending that ?happened a week too early? as coach Zastrow put it, but unbelievably intense none the less.

5.         N.E.W. Lutheran vs. Sheboygan Area Lutheran, boys basketball ? After going to state the previous two years, N.E.W. was replacing four starters and had to start the season against the best player in the state in Sam Dekker. Well, Dekker didn?t disappoint in leading his team to the 77-71 victory, but the game was high paced and close throughout, and gave N.E.W. fans an abundance of optimism heading into what turned out to be a very successful and exciting regular season.

Others: Algoma at De Pere, girls basketball; Algoma vs. Horicon, softball; and N.E.W. Lutheran at Sturgeon Bay, boys basketball
Following Wisconsin sports from the Keweenaw.

The Chicago Blackhawks (and their fans) are to the NHL what the St. Louis Cardinals (and their fans) are to MLB.

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onpackerland
Best Individual Play/Series of Plays
1.         Taylor Schmidt?s steal and layup versus Beaver Dam ? Almost all of these plays are more circumstantial than anything, and this was no exception. Algoma had turned the game around from a 39-32 Beaver Dam lead with about 6 minutes left in the 4th to a Wolves? 42-39 lead with less than two minutes left. Beaver Dam had called a time out to calm down and get back on track, and were inbounding the ball at half court. Well, the in bounder floated the pass to Cady Roedl a little too nonchalantly, and Schmidt cut in front to get the steal and take the ball to the other hoop, drawing a foul on Roedl while completing the layup. While there was still almost two minutes left and only a five point game, that was the ?dagger? as Beaver Dam was just too shocked at what happened.

2.         Courtney Dart?s base running versus Southern Door ? Extra innings of the conference championship game, and Dart showed yet another aspect of why she is the conference player of the year. Dart led off the inning by getting on 1st by a bad hop error by Amy Englebert. Meg Ryan then laid down the perfect bunt, in which 3rd baseman Rachel Andres was drawn all the way up to near home plate, allowing Dart to slide in safely at third. With Mueller batting, McKayla Dantoin threw her first wild pitch of the game, allowing Dart to score the conference championship run. On both plays, there was absolutely no hesitation from Dart , and it still took a great slide to be safe at 3rd on the sac bunt.

3.         Dakota Zinser in final minute of OT versus Sturgeon Bay ? N.E.W. Lutheran and Sturgeon Bay were thought by many to be the top two teams going into the boys basketball conference season, and their early season match up didn?t disappoint. The game ended up going into overtime, with Sturgeon Bay taking a 64-60 lead into the final minute. However, Zinser made baskets on back to back possessions to put the Blazers up 65-64 and they held on the rest of the way.

Others: Kaylee Pieschek?s double play in top of the 8th in softball conference championship versus Southern Door; Sam Dekker?s dunk versus N.E.W. Lutheran
Following Wisconsin sports from the Keweenaw.

The Chicago Blackhawks (and their fans) are to the NHL what the St. Louis Cardinals (and their fans) are to MLB.

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