So close, yet so far
For the Marauders men and women, just one game stands between them and a state tournament berth
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County basketball teams have hit the postseason in different ways, but both stand just one win away from a state tournament appearance.
The Marauders women have won their last four games and finished the regular season at 12-7 and 11-4 in the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference (WCC), while the men have struggled recently, mostly on the defensive end. The men are 6-12 heading into the WCC playoffs.
The UW-Marshfield women host UW-Fond du Lac at 1 p.m. Saturday while the men will play at UW-Rock County in Janesville on Wednesdaywith state tournament berths on the line. The WCC Final Four is set for Feb. 21, and the championship game on Feb. 22 at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells.
A balanced scoring attack and a healthy roster have helped the Marauders women finish the season strong.
In its past two victories, over UW-Fond du Lac on Monday and UW-Rock County last Saturday, UW-Marshfield/Wood County has had four players score in double figures, with none scoring more than 14.
“The key is finding who is feeling hot that day,” Marauders women’s coach Brent Ystad said. “We try to find that mismatch, try to get open, and find the player with the biggest mismatch.”
Paige Newman and Allie Paitel each scored 14 points against Fond du Lac while three players had 11 points and another added 10 in the win over Rock County.
The Marauders women swept three regular-season meetings with UW-Fond du Lac, including a pair on the road. Marshfield won 56-44 in the third-place game at the UW-Fond du Lac Classic on Nov. 1 and again beat the Falcons on the road 47-41 in a WCC game on Dec. 13.
The familiarity is helpful for both teams, Ystad said, but having just defeated the Falcons earlier this week is a definite plus for Marshfield.
“It’s definitely nice to play them again, but that can work in their favor too,” Ystad said. “We’ve been rolling pretty well, and if we bring the same attitude and drive we had Monday night, we’ll be OK.”
The Marauders men have the opposite predicament as they lost both meetings with UW-Rock County (12-12, 8-0 WCC) during the regular season.
Both games were wild ones, with the Marauders losing at home last Saturday 99-87 and on Nov. 29 at Rock County 105-97. The Marauders gave up nearly 60 points in the second half of each game.
Marshfield’s trio of Joseph Estrict, Derrick Shivers, and Covon Rudolph has been solid all season, and that was no different in the matchups with Rock County.
All three scored in double figures in both games. Estrict (30 points, 11 rebounds) and Rudolph (18 points, 10 rebounds) both notched double-doubles in the loss at Janesville in November.
Trying to slow down the Rattlers will be a tough task for Marshfield. Safari Hunt averaged 30 points, and Montrell Presley 26.5 points per game in the two matchups with the Marauders.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wisconsin Collegiate Conference Basketball Playoffs
Women: UW-Fond du Lac at UW-Marshfield/Wood County, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Men: UW-Marshfield/Wood County at UW-Rock County (Janesville), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
On the line: The winners of each game advance to the WCC State Tournament in Wisconsin Dells on Feb. 21-22.