The road ahead
Marshfield girls basketball is riding high but will face stiff challenges on the path to the playoffs
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield girls basketball team hit the halfway point of its 2015-16 regular season with a 50-37 win at Chippewa Falls on Tuesday night, improving its record to 10-1 and putting itself in control of its aspirations to win a Wisconsin Valley Conference title and earn a high seed for the WIAA playoffs that begin at the end of February.
The win over Chippewa Falls was the Tigers’ third in a row, following a 44-41 loss to then third-ranked Bay Port on Dec. 22, and begins a week-long stretch that features games against other WVC title contenders Merrill — played on the road Thursday — and D.C. Everest, who the Tigers host on Jan. 12.
Heading into Thursday’s action, Marshfield and Everest are 3-0 in the Valley, and Merrill was 2-1. Marshfield was ranked No. 6 in this week’s Wissports.net Division 1 state coaches poll.
“The game against Chippewa Falls goes a long ways toward seeding (in the WIAA Division 1 sectional), and it’s on the road at a tough place to play,” Marshfield coach Heidi Michaelis said. “Right away we go to Merrill, who’s been playing very well, and then host Everest. It’s big in our conference race.
“We have goals this year, and this week is important to those — seeding and conference.”
The Tigers have been using a balanced scoring attack that features junior forward Ema Fehrenbach down low and guards McKayla Scheuer, a senior; Maddie Nikolai, a junior; and sophomore Meg Bryan around the perimeter.
Fehrenbach leads the Tigers at 16 points per game, while Scheuer, a Bemidji State University recruit, is averaging 15 points per contest. Nikolai is at 12 per game, and Bryan and sophomore center Hannah Meverden are chipping in 8 points a game. All five starters have had multiple double-digit performances, giving the Tigers a number of directions to go in their offense.
Reserve guards Sara Dasler, Jenny Scheppler, Dani Bender, and Ana Jensen have provided boosts at times off the bench for the Tigers.
While the record and conference standing look great, there are still things for the Tigers to improve on, Michaelis said.
Marshfield scored at least 66 points in five of its first six games but since has only hit the 60-point mark once, that coming in a win over Wausau Newman Catholic on Dec. 30 when it scored 65.
“We have to be cleaner on the offensive end,” Michaelis said. “We struggled (recently) scoring the ball, which was not the case early on. Our defense is better now than it was early, so it’s kind of flip-flopped.
“We are finding ways to win games because we are hanging in there defensively. Nothing is easy right now, especially on the offensive end. As long as we continue to battle on the defensive end, we will figure the offense out.”