By PATRICK SLACK
Browerville gave Upsala an early scare in the Sub-Section 5A West semifinals.
But the only thing that had a chance to stand in the way of the Cardinals’ quest for a return trip to the section finals was Tuesday’s weather.
As it turned out, eight inches of snow and a school closing couldn’t slow down Upsala, and neither could Sebeka, as the Cardinals delivered a painfully thorough 68-31 demolition, claiming a repeat sub-section title.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt, as senior Alissa Zehrer scored the opening six points of the game on her way to 13 in the first half, helping the Cardinals build a commanding 39-13 halftime lead.
The game never tightened in the second half, as all 11 Cardinals ended up providing scoring in the runaway victory.
Senior Aimee Pelzer finished as the scoring leader with a 21-point night, while Zehrer posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Sara Herzog and senior Tracy Herzog combined for 13 points, sophomore Kristin Wuebkers had four and junior Kaelin Smieja netted three.
Senior Sadie Welinski, junior Katie Ripplinger, sophomores Danica Cheney and Brooke Westrich and eighth-grader Katlin Welinski all added two points.
The game was a complete reversal from the teams’ earlier meeting in the season, when Sebeka raced to a 31-22 halftime lead before Upsala clawed back to edge the Trojans 61-56.
“When we went up there earlier we did not play our best ball,” Upsala head coach Paul Pelzer said. “We were in early foul trouble. I knew that we were better than what we showed them. I knew that it would be a different story than the first time we met them if we played our game.
“I felt really good coming into the game,” he said. “Our practices were going really well and we’ve been peaking at the right time. I knew if the girls brought their ‘A’ games it would be difficult for Sebeka to stay in it.”
Upsala will now take on Pine River-Backus in Friday’s Section 5A championship game held at Crosby-Ironton.
The first meeting between Upsala and Pine River-Backus was close throughout. The game was tied 23-23 at halftime and remained deadlocked late until Aimee Pelzer drained a pair of free throws with 5.2 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 53-51 win.
“Obviously we need to rebound because they’re a much taller team,” he said. “We need to take care of the ball, we need to play tough defense and limit their shots. Hopefully we can control the pace of the game which is up and down the court, hopefully stay out of foul trouble. If we do the basics – rebound, make good decisions, control the pace – I think we’ll do very well.”
“The girls are so hungry to get to the big dance,” he said. “They’ve worked so hard, they really, really want to get there. There’s no doubt in my mind they can if their heart is in it and their hearts are definitely in it. I just wish the best for them because it’s all about them and they’re so unbelievable to coach,” he said. “They’ve worked so hard this season, just to advance would be the frosting on the cake for them and so well deserved.”
Upsala 68, Sebeka 31
Sebeka 13 18 – 31
Upsala 39 29 – 68
Upsala—Aimee Pelzer, 21; Alissa Zehrer, 17; Sara Herzog, 7; Tracy Herzog, 6; Kristin Wuebkers, 4; Kaelin Smieja, 3; Danica Cheney, 2; Katie Ripplinger, 2; Katlin Welinski, 2; Sadie Welinski, 2; Brooke Westrich, 2. Rebounds: Zehrer, 10. Assists: Pelzer, 7.