EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann
Crivitz’s Chloe Gruszynski fights off contact from Bonduel’s Madison Kurey and fires off a shot during Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 regional final in Bonduel.
EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann

Crivitz’s Chloe Gruszynski fights off contact from Bonduel’s Madison Kurey and fires off a shot during Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 regional final in Bonduel.

BONDUEL, Wis. — A tightly-contested first half gave way to a nightmarish second for the No. 4 seeded Crivitz girls basketball team in a 71-52 loss to No. 1 Bonduel in the WIAA Division 4 regional final on Saturday.

Crivitz, who dropped a narrow 46-45 contest against the Bears on Feb. 8, found themselves down by nine points at halftime before being outscored 37-to-27 in the second half by a Bonduel team that was eager to complete the season sweep. The Bears’ defense collapsed on any and all of Crivitz’s shooters and didn’t allow many open offensive looks while using an inside-outside attack to punish the Wolverines’ defense. Crivitz ran the fastbreak well in the first half and was able to force several Bonduel turnovers, but the energy exerted in the first half attempting to overcome a nine-point deficit ultimately left the Wolverines gassed in the second half.

“Bonduel was the better team tonight,” Crivitz head coach Brett Meyers said. “We were prepared but we didn’t execute the way we wanted to. They were able to hit the shots that we didn’t want them to hit and they made the extra pass. We played as hard as we could play, but we got tired in the second half and struggled to put little things together. We had streaks here and there, but when you go down that much against a good team, you spend twice as much energy crawling out of a hole. We battled but we came up short.”

The two teams showed their familiarity with each other as the game began by trading baskets before a triple from Kara Troxel gave the Bears a 7-6 lead. A pair of free throws from Chloe Gruszynski allowed the Wolverines to regain the lead, but Allaina Robaidek sank a pair of free throws while Josie Hoffman hit a mid-range jumper to give Bonduel a three-point advantage.

Crivitz retook the lead thanks to a layup by McKenna Sellen before a 7-0 Bonduel run forced the Wolverines to take a timeout with 10 minutes and 26 seconds remaining until halftime. Josie Hoffman added two more free throws to push the Bears’ advantage to nine until Sianna Guns drilled a 3-pointer that made it a 19-13 game.

A baseline layup from Hoffman got Bonduel’s lead back to nine before consecutive buckets from Guns and two scores from Morgan VanLanen and Emalee Johnsen cut Crivitz’s deficit to just one point. The Bears responded with back-to-back triples by Kylie Hoffman and Robaidek, who canned another 3-pointer to make the score 31-22.

Gruszynski and Guns both chipped in a free throw while Guns also converted a layup as the Wolverines attempted to take the lead before halftime, but a free throw by Breanna Schnell along with a layup by Brenna Hertzfeldt allowed Bonduel to take a 34-25 lead into the second half.

The Bears opened the second half with Troxel’s second triple of the game while Crivitz countered with a layup from Gruszynski to make it a 10-point game. Gruszynski sank a pair of free throws but three quick buckets from Bonduel brought the score to 43-29 and forced a Wolverines’ timeout four minutes into the half.

“Bonduel is a good team. They’re young, fast, they can shoot, they put the ball on the floor and they defend very well,” Meyers said. “I can’t take anything away from a team like that. I have a feeling that they’re going to go pretty far in the postseason.”

Crivitz appeared to settle itself coming out of the break as Gruszynski nailed a putback attempt and Kira Spalding knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Bonduel’s lead to 10, but Troxel sank back-to-back triples to give the Bears a 50-34 advantage. Gruszynski sank a 3-pointer of her own and added a pair of free throws to help the Wolverines claw back into the game, but another 7-0 run allowed Bonduel to begin to pull away late.

Guns fought her way through some tough Bonduel defense for a layup, Bailey Bemis hit a mid-range jumper and Gruszynski nailed another triple and added a pair of free throws as Crivitz battled to keep its season alive, but baskets from Robaidek and Troxel pushed the Bears’ lead to 20. With 1:25 left to play, Meyers subbed out his starters and saw Maggie Dama come off the bench and hit a jump shot for the Wolverines’ final points of the game. A garbage-time free throw from Meghan Wondra proved to be the cherry on the cake for Bonduel.

Saturday’s game was the final time seniors Grusynski, VanLanen, Spalding, Guns, Johnsen and Amanda Bruins will share the court as teammates and Meyers said that the impact those six had on the community of Crivitz is far-reaching.

“Our seniors represented us well. This senior class has brought basketball back to Crivitz again and they’ve worked hard and played together for a long time,” he said. “This town needed girls sports to be back and between basketball, volleyball and track, these girls have made a huge impact on our community, in the Marinette and Oconto Conference and in society in general. I’m going to miss every one of them.”

Gruszynski led the Wolverines with 21 points while Guns dropped 12 and VanLanen chipped in five. Troxel paced Bonduel with 19 points, Robaidek backed her up with 16 and Kylie Hoffman poured in 13.

“I’m not upset with the way my kids played tonight,” Meyers added. “They played hard all the time, they never laid down and they never stopped fighting. Even when the game was getting out of reach, they kept pushing and I’ll give them that credit. They deserve the recognition that they get.”

CRIVITZ (52) — Grusynski 21, Guns 12, VanLanen 5, Johnsen 4, Spalding 3, Sellen 2, Bemis 2, Dama 2; FTs: 13-19

BONDUEL (71) — Troxel 19, Robaidek 16, K. Hoffman 13, Hertzfeldt 8, Schnell 7, J. Hoffman 6, Wondra 1; FTs: 13-17

Halftime score: Bonduel 34, Crivitz 25.