Assumption Royals Complete Season Sweep of Newman

By Brian Kalish - From Central Wisconsin Sports

January 23, 2015

Wausau– When the Newman Cardinals and Assumption Royals take to the basketball court, you can pretty much throw out each team’s record and settle in for what typically ends up to be a closely contested affair.  That seemed to be the case in the first half on Friday night where Newman fought valiantly, but was unable to overcome a Royals’ onslaught in the second half as Assumption pulled away for a 60-47 victory.

The final score may be a little bit deceiving, considering how close the game was in the first half.

While Assumption came out of the gates flat and struggled to find a rhythm offensively, it was timely shooting from the Cardinals, particularly from beyond the three point line, that kept Newman within striking distance in the second quarter.

With just 25 seconds to go before halftime, Newman sophomore guard Lauren Fech buried a three point shot to tie the game at 21-21.

Assumption took a two point lead into the locker room on a shot by Rose Crowns that beat the buzzer.

If the Royals were rattled by Newman’s run in the second quarter, they showed no signs of it in the second half.  Assumption put together a 11-0 run to start the third quarter, which blew the game wide open.  The fast start for the Royals was thanks in large part to sharpshooting from Gena Grundhoffer, Macie Zurfluh and savvy inside play by Olivia Skibba.

So what was the difference between a sluggish first half and a hot-shooting second half for the Royals?

“Energy,” said Assumption junior Gena Grundhoffer, who led all scorers with 24 points.  “(Coach Birkhauser) got us into the locker room and gave us a burst of energy.  He said, ‘This is a game right now and we need to come out in the second half and we need to bring energy because that’s what we didn’t do in the first half.'”

Key to the Royals’ success in the second half was their ability to make shots from the outside.

Zurfluh, who finished the game with 21 points, connected for three three-point shots in the second half, while Grundhoffer also buried a second half three pointer in addition to hitting a number of jumpers from fifteen feet and beyond.

Newman’s defense simply couldn’t account for the Royals’ versatility on offense.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve been stagnant on offense because we’re not looking for those outside shots,” said coach Birkhauser.  “It was great to see Macie and Gena hit some outside shots, and even Rose at the end of the first half, that was nice too.  It was nice to see them shoot the ball.”

It was a banner week for Grundhoffer, who crossed the career 1,000 point mark on Tuesday and now has a road victory over one of the Royals’ biggest rivals under her belt as well.

“It was kind of emotional, getting my 1,000th point,” said Grundhoffer.  “It was frustrating getting there, but once I got there it was just a great sense of relief with my family supporting me and my teammates supporting me.  That was an amazing experience and I’m glad it’s out of the way now.  And then coming here and beating Newman is always great. Nothing really gets any better than that.”

The win lifts Assumption to 13-3 overall and 7-2 in the Marawood South, while Newman falls to 5-10 overall and 2-7 in conference play.

1 2 3 4 F
Newman 7 14 13 13 47
Assumption 10 13 23 14 60

Assumption (60): Krings 2, Wendels 2, Linzmeier 2, Zurfluh 21, Grundhoffer 24, Crowns 2, Skibba 7

Newman (47): Fech 3, Bauman 2, Jankowski 11, Deaton 15, Beilke 3, Wirtz 3, Fox 10

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