High school girls basketball: Hudson rolls into Wisconsin state final

OSHKOSH, Wis – Hudson’s share and share alike approach earned the undefeated Raiders a berth in the state championship game.

Audrey Hatfield scored 21 points to pace fifth-ranked Hudson to a 61-46 victory over Franklin on Saturday afternoon in the Division 1 semifinals of the WIAA girls state basketball tournament.

Hudson (23-0) will play second-ranked Germantown (28-1) in the title game Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the state tournament is being played in single-day sessions for each of the five divisions, split between La Crosse and Oshkosh.

Forced into more of a halfcourt game than usual by Franklin, the Raiders registered 16 assists on their 24 field goals, working the ball inside for 34 points in the paint. Led by the 6-2 Hatfield, who had eight rebounds, and 6-2 Grace Johnson, who had a game-high 10 rebounds, Hudson had a 32-20 advantage on the boards.

“I think we executed really well and worked as a team the entire game,” Hatfield said. “We found all the open looks, whether it was on the inside or the outside. I don’t think you could have asked for a better team offensive game.”

Hudson coach Jessica Vadnais, who played on both the Raiders 2002 title team and last state team in 2003, was pleased with her team’s ability to adapt.

“One of our biggest strengths is our transition game, actually, and they were taking that away relatively well, especially with their full-court pressure,” Vadnais said. “So, the fact you were able to play more of a half-court possession game to that level, I would say was really impressive to me.”

Hudson gained control with an 11-1 run to end the first half for a 31-22 lead at the break.

The Sabers (15-6), who had won 10 of their previous 11, pulled within 41-36 on Gabrielle Gawlitta’s putback with 12 ½ minutes remaining. But, Kira Young scored on a drive and Livi Boily converted a three-point play to push Hudson’s lead to 46-36.

Gawlitta rolled in a baseline drive to make it 49-40 with 7:07 left, but the Raiders allowed just six points the rest of the way.

Boily added 13 points and Sophia Jonas 11 for Hudson, shot 57 percent, making 24 of 42 field goals.

Gawlitta had 18 points and Taylor added 11 for the Sabers.

Hudson’s late first-half surge was crucial, Franklin coach Ronald Hibben said.

“It kind of takes the air out,” Hibben said. “Because we were down in the beginning, we come all the way back, and now you’ve taken the lead, the crowd’s behind, and then to lose the lead like that hurts.”

Franklin scored five straight, taking its first lead of the half at 21-20 on a jumper from the left side by Wojcinski.

Hatfield converted a three-point play and Jonas and Grace Lewis sandwiched 3-pointers around a free throw by Wojcinski to put Hudson up 29-22. Johnson closed out the run with a putback with 11 seconds left.

“It was a very tough game,” Hibben said. “You aren’t 22-0 for no reason. Hudson has a great group of girls. They play hard, a lot of good continuity on offense, and as you could see, the post player was very tough to defend inside.”

Germantown, which defeated No. 3 Beaver Dam and top-ranked Kimberly in the sectionals, jumped out to a 20-0 lead against Verona and was never threatened. As such, no starter played more than 26 minutes.

In contrast, each of Hudson starters played at least 26 minutes in the first game, including 32 for Jonas and 29 for Hatfield.

“Obviously, they got to rest more starters and got the lead a little bit quicker than we did. But, I feel like we’re a really good-conditioned team and these kids are playing the game of their life,” said Vadnais, a Division III All-American during her college career at Gustavus Adolphus College. “This is what these kids work for all year long, their whole careers. These seniors get to culminate their high school careers, no matter what happens at 8:15 at tonight, they get to take home either a gold or silver ball. That’s worth everything.”


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