LAKE MILLS — The senior experience of the Wisconsin Dells girls basketball team paid huge dividends against Lake Mills’ fountain of youth Friday night.
And it was Wisconsin Dells senior forward Katelyn Meister who demonstrated particular savvy, showing off an array of shots around the basket in leading the Chiefs to a 64-53 non-conference victory.
Meister scored on decisive moves to the basket, clever baseline drives and crafty backdoor cuts. She was the recipient of good passing from her teammates and poured in 17 of her game-high 26 points in the second half. The Michigan Tech commit also showed off her passing ability while at times directing the offense with starting senior point guard Bethany Smith in foul trouble.
“It’s a team thing,” said Meister, who entered the game averaging 20 points per game. “We all look for each other. And we all look for each other on the back cuts. We’ve been playing with each other since we were little kids — T-shirts below the knees. So we read each other well.”
Wisconsin Dells (3-1), ranked sixth in Division 3 in the WisSports.net poll, started five seniors, while Lake Mills (3-2) started four sophomores and a freshman from a 13-player roster that included nine sophomores and four freshmen.
“(Wisconsin Dells) was a Final Four team and had six seniors,” said Lake Mills coach Brandon Siska, whose team’s other loss this season was to Marshall, top-ranked in Division 3. “They are huge. Obviously, we are not very big, so that was a tough matchup for us. (Meister) is a ballplayer. She’s awesome. We had a tough time matching up with her tonight. She hurt us. But overall I thought our effort was outstanding.”
Wisconsin Dells coach Bob Buss said the Chiefs’ man-to-man defense and experience made the difference.
“They’ve been in a lot of big games, obviously, last year with the tournament run they had,” said Buss, whose team lost to eventual champion Marshall in the WIAA Division 3 state tournament semifinals last season. “Lake Mills has nice young players, they’ve got some shooters, they are pretty aggressive. I think we made some big shots and had big stops at the right time.
“We have a lot of girls come back from the state team. We didn’t play real well the last game versus Reedsburg and they wanted to prove something to everybody coming here. It’s a tough place to play and to get a win is huge, not only for the program but for the girls’ psyche.”
Lake Mills sophomore guard Taylor Roughen sank four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 16 points, including 13 in the first half, and sophomore guard Julianna Wagner added 12 points.
The L-Cats rallied within 47-44 with 9 minutes, 4 seconds remaining, but the Chiefs responded with 12 unanswered points to claim a 59-44 lead with 3:03 left. Meister had eight of those 12 points.
Wisconsin Dells senior center Jamie Pfeifer totaled 12 points, including 11 in the first half when the Chiefs led 31-27 at the break, and sophomore guard Kayla Gray had 11 points off the bench.
“The five seniors we started have been playing together a long time,” Buss said. “They, obviously, look for each other. Kate is our main scorer, but she is doing a good job moving to get open. And the other girls made some big shots. We can’t rely on Katelyn to do everything every night, so some other girls will have to step up and show some confidence, and they did tonight.”
Wisconsin Dells 31 33 — 64
Lake Mills 27 26 — 53
WISCONSIN DELLS — Flock 1 0-0 3, Meister 12 1-3 26, Gray 2 5-6 11, Smith 1 1-3 3, Myklebust 3 1-3 8, Jones 0 1-2 1, Pfeifer 5 2-8 12. Totals 17 9-10 64.
LAKE MILLS — Roughen 5 2-2 16, Wagner 5 0-0 12, Pitta 2 1-2 6, Guerrero 1 0-0 2, Lamke 0 2-2 2, Mahone 3 0-0 9, Wollin 1 4-4 6. Totals 24 11-25 53.
3-point goals — WD 5 (Flock 1, Meister 1, Gray 2, Myklebust 1), LM 10 (Roughen 4, Wagner 2, Pitta 1, Mahone 3). Total fouls — WD 19, LM 13.