Hortonville girls fall to state champion
Polar Bears drop D1 semifinal game
By Greg Seubert
A first state championship for the Hortonville girls’ basketball program has been put on hold.
The Polar Bears’ season ended March 10 with a 77-67 loss to eventual Division 1 state champion Kettle Moraine in a semifinal game at the WIAA State Girls’ Basketball Tournament at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Hortonville saw its season end with a 25-4 record, while the Lasers went on to win their second straight state title.
The Polar Bears trailed 6-2 less than two minutes into the game, but responded with a 19-5 run to take their biggest lead – 21-11 – on Jada Stuewer’s layup.
Kettle Moraine then scored 17 of the game’s next 19 points to take a 28-23 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the first half and scored the final seven points of the half to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room.
“We went on a run early,” coach AC Clouthier said. “We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been able to start off a lot of games that way. They went on a couple of more runs than we did and couldn’t weather it.”
Braelyn Torres’ basket gave the Lasers their biggest lead – 50-32 – with 13 minutes to go in the game. Hortonville later cut the lead to 54-48 on a three-pointer from Leah Heraly and to 71-65 on another three-pointer from Rainey Welson with 1:15 to go, but never got any closer.
“They played really well,” Clouthier said. “They’ve got some really good basketball players. Their bench really showed up tonight. We really tried to put pressure on (Grace Grocholski and Torres) and the rest of their team made a lot of plays for them tonight, which obviously shows up in a state championship basketball team.”
Welson ended up leading all scorers with 28 points.
“They changed up their matchups a couple different times and I think that’s a credit to our athletes making plays early,” Clouthier said. “It really kept us guessing a couple times. They did a little more face guarding on Rainey later and we had trouble getting her the ball. That’s when we got stale for a little bit. Credit Rainey. She battled and battled and battled.”
Trinity Mocadlo and Mikayla Werner added 15 and 13 points, respectively, for Hortonville, while Grocholski led the Lasers with 21 points.
Clouthier coached the Polar Bears to their fourth trip to state in his first season at Hortonville. The Polar Bears lost in the semifinal round in 1987, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The team also qualified in 2020, but the tournament was called off because of the coronavirus.
“I’m not looking at the future at this moment in time,” Clouthier said. “I just want to spend it with the kids I went to battle with. These kids are great. They’re even better kids in the community. They do so many cool things for our youth and our schools. That’s what makes them who they are. Win or lose tonight, they’re still champions in my book.”
• Kettle Moraine went on to win its second straight Division 1 championship the following day with a 47-40 win over Brookfield East. In other championship games, Notre Dame won its third straight Division 2 title with a 64-49 win over Pewaukee, Kewaskum won its first state championship with a 55-51 win over Milwaukee School of Science in Division 3, Laconia topped Aquinas 64-51 in Division 4 to win its first state championship and McDonell Catholic won its first state title with a 61-46 win over Blair-Taylor in Division 5.