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WIAA DIV. 2 GIRLS BASKETBALL - Offense clicks in regional win for the Medford girls

Offense clicks in regional win for the Medford girls
Medford guard Aliyah Pilgrim buries this 3-point shot at the halftime buzzer Tuesday, giving the Raiders a 40-15 lead over visiting New Richmond. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS
Offense clicks in regional win for the Medford girls
Medford guard Aliyah Pilgrim buries this 3-point shot at the halftime buzzer Tuesday, giving the Raiders a 40-15 lead over visiting New Richmond. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS


Facing a team that didn’t win a regular-season game made some of the Medford Raiders a little nervous heading into Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 girls basketball regional opener.

Knocking down 12 3-point shots, however, has a way of calming the nerves quickly.

The sixth-seeded Raiders’ steady offensive progress through the regular season carried into Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal as they jumped ahead quickly and were never threatened in their 64-36 win over 11th-seeded New Richmond at Raider Hall. Medford got seven first-half 3s from five different players, scored inside as well on well-executed halfcourt sets and got over .500 for the first time since they were 2-1 in late November.

The 13-12 Raiders advanced to the regional semifinal round where they face a challenging matchup Friday at 7 p.m. at third-seeded Rice Lake (17-7), a team they lost to 65-38 while dropping to 2-8 at the time on Dec. 15.

But, 11-4 since then, Medford is anxious to see how it matches up with the Warriors this time around. “I’m excited,” Medford head coach Chad Fronk said. “If these kids want to go up and give them a fight, I think we can. Who knows?”

“I definitely think we’re a lot more prepared than we were at the beginning of the season when we first played them,” senior Breanna Kraemer said.

“We’re a totally different team,” sophomore Aliyah Pilgrim said. “Hopefully it’s a good game.”

Pilgrim was one of the Raiders who certainly had a good game Tuesday. She dropped a game-high 16 points on the Tigers (0-24), hitting three 3-point shots and a couple of long twos as well. Her 3-point shot at the halftime buzzer capped Medford’s dominant first half that ended with a 40-15 lead.

Rylee Hraby knocked down five triples to account for all 15 of her points. Three of those came in the first half.

“I feel like we executed our offense really well,” Pilgrim said. “We pushed the ball up the floor which helped us get more open looks and better shots.

“It helped that Aliyah and Rylee couldn’t miss a 3,” Kraemer said.

The first 14 minutes of the game were Medford’s strongest minutes. Defensively, the Raiders made it tough for the Tigers to get anything going. Offensively Kayla Baumgartner scored all seven of her points early and Pilgrim got a three-point play for a 12-5 lead. Laney Hraby scored while using a Pilgrim screen, Rylee Hraby hit her first two 3s and then Taylor Klingbeil charged into the frontcourt after grabbing a defensive rebound and dropped a pass to the trailing Laney Hraby, who sank a 3 for a 23-6 lead.

Pilgrim’s screen freed Rylee Hraby for another 3, Klingbeil scored inside, Pilgrim was fouled on a 3-point try and made two of three free throws and Toryn Rau drilled a left-wing 3 for her only points of the night to make it 33-10. Kraemer also scored twice, the first off a well-executed pick and roll with Rau.

“Throughout the season we all have improved a lot,” Kraemer said. “I feel like we work more as a team now than we did at the beginning of the season.”

“At the beginning of the season, we were all just pieces just trying to fit together,” Pilgrim added. “Now I feel like we flow together nicely.”

“We played much better in this game than we did up in Tomahawk (Friday),” Fronk said. “They were more focused.”

The Raiders hit a cold spell early in the second half, but the Tigers didn’t make much of a dent in Medford’s lead. It was 4729 when 3s by Madison Clarkson, Pilgrim, Rylee Hraby and Pilgrim again slammed the door, opening up a 61-32 bulge.

Klingbeil and Kraemer scored six points each, and Laney Hraby finished with five. Bailey Eloranta sank two late free throws and Stacy Stolp added one.

Miley Covey, a freshman guard, led New Richmond with 10 points, while Stella Nielsen added nine.

Friday’s winner advances to Saturday’s 7 p.m. regional final against either seventhseeded Merrill (14-11) or second-seeded Lakeland (22-2). The regional champion will play in the Feb. 29 sectional semifinal.

Raiders 66, Hatchets 36

In a statistical rarity, Medford closed the regular season Friday by outscoring Tomahawk 33-18 in each half while notching a 66-36 road win.

The win sealed a 7-5 record in the Great Northern Conference, good for fourth place behind Lakeland (12-0), Rhinelander (9-3) and Mosinee (8-4). The Raiders improved by one spot and three games over last year in league play.

Four players reached double figures in scoring in the win. Klingbeil hit nine of 13 shots while scoring 19 points. She also grabbed six rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Baumgartner had 14 points while making five of 11 shots from the field. She had six rebounds and six assists to go with two steals and two blocked shots.

Pilgrim continued her strong shooting of late, knocking down five of eight shots, including two out of three 3-pointers for 12 points. She had eight rebounds and three assists. Rylee Hraby was three of eight from long range and scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds, six steals and four assists.

The Hatchets finished 0-12 in league play. They were led by Claire Albert’s 14 points.

The game was never in doubt. Medford started the game with a 15-4 run that included 3s from Baumgartner and Hraby and was capped by a Baumgartner steal and score and a hoop from Rau. Tomahawk crept within 19-12 on a long two-point shot by Khianna Vacho, but Hraby picked up a loose ball in the right corner and swished a 3, Baumgartner scored and then assisted on a Klingbeil basket, Pilgrim took a defensive rebound the other way for a score and Klingbeil got an offensive putback for a 30-12 lead.

Pilgrim sandwiched 3s around an assist to Hraby to open up a 43-22 lead early in the second half. The Hatchets made a bit of a run, getting within 50-33 on an Albert 3, but Pilgrim’s long two-point shot, a Baumgartner score and two hoops from Klingbeil put Medford firmly back in control at 58-33.

Rau and Rachel Wesle scored four points apiece in the win. Rau had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Wesle had three rebounds. Eloranta had a late steal and score to go with three rebounds.

After taking a pass from teammate Toryn Rau, Medford senior Breanna Kraemer gets to the rim for an easy basket, beating New Richmond defender Miley Covey, during the first half of Tuesday’s 64-36 WIAA Division 2 regional win. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS