In a theme we have seen several times in these state tournament games, what had been a tight contest in the first half turned into a double-digit victory, as Cudahy pulled away from Hortonville for a 46-36 victory in a Division 2 semi-final game.
Defense was the name of the game for the Packers, who held Hortonville to 26.7% shooting in the game and just 21.4% in the second half. Hortonville's 36 points was a season-low, and 26 points below their season average.
Hortonville looked good early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead with just less than 12 minutes to go in the first half. Cudahy would settle down, eventually tying the game at 14 on a Nicole Ferch layup with 6:52 to go in the period.
Cudahy got a big boost as time expired in the first half when Hannah Kulas drained a 25-footer at the buzzer to send the Packers to the locker room with a 24-18 advantage.
Hortonville would cut the lead to just two points in the middle of the second half, and trailed 36-31 with around five minutes remaining. The Polar Bears missed opportunities to cut into the lead over the next several minutes however, missing five layups and a couple free throws.
As Hortonville pressed offensively to try to get back in it, Cudahy continued to add to its lead, which swelled to 12 points before settling at the final 10-point margin.
Cudahy advances to the Division 2 state title game in its first trip to state, though first year head coach Bob Maronde is no stranger to success. He led Grafton to Division 2 championships in 2007 and 2009.
Junior Hannah Kulas had a double-double for the Packers, scoring 12 points with 10 rebounds to go with 3 blocks, 2 steals, and 2 assists. Senior Bailey Eichner, a Williams & Mary recruit, led the team with 13 points and 6 assists.
Hortonville was paced in scoring by junior guard Shay Frederick, who had 12 points, 5 steals, and 4 assists. Morgan Allen added 10 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out with just over four minutes remaining.
Beaver Dam remained undefeated, moving to 27-0 on the season, closing out a 62-47 win over Monroe from the free throw line in a Division 2 state semi-final.
The Golden Beavers shot just 35% in the second half, but went 14-19 from the charity stripe, holding a double-digit lead the final 14 minutes.
Monroe took its first lead of the game with 10:08 left in the first half when Rachel Meier made a jumper, but it was short-lived, as the Cheesemakers only led for 54 seconds the entire contest.
Beaver Dam got hot late in the first half, including baskets on its last four possessions of the period to push its halftime lead to ten points. Monroe would get no closer than 7 the rest of the way.
Cassidy Trotter, recently named the top point guard in the state as part of the WisSports.net Senior Girls Basketball Awards, led the way for head coach Tim Chase, scoring 23 points, adding 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists as well. She was 12 for 19 from the free throw line in the game, including eight for 13 in the second half.
Monroe was led by sophomore sensation Sydney Hilliard, who poured in a team-high 16 points. Jordan Hirsbrunner and Sydney Mathiason each scored 10 for the Cheesemakers.
Attendance for the Friday afternoon Division 2 session was 6,540, up 466 from last year.