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WEM presses by MCW in South Sub-Section hoops final

BETWEEN BUCS — Martin County West’s Marissa Whitehead drives between Waterville-Elysian-Morristown’s Ellie Ready (5) and Buc teammate Kylie Pittmann (second from right) during the Section 2A, South Sub-Section basketball championship game Tuesday night in Waterville. The Mavericks’ Emily Anderson (back right) and Lucy Larson (11) look on. (Photo by Greg Abel)

WATERVILLE — Waterville-Elysian-Morristown head girls basketball coach Ty Kaus was hesistant about Kylie Pittmann’s playing status prior to Tuesday night’s postseason game.

Kaus, however, taped his 5-foot-9 senior forward’s wrist, received a thumbs-up from her, penciled No. 22 into the starting lineup and Pittmann triggered both the Bucs’ swarming defense and balanced offense.

Pittmann produced game-bests of seven steals and four assists to complement nine points, Brielle Bartelt drilled three 3s en route to 18 points, while Toryn Richards tossed in 15 points to guide No. 1-seeded WEM to a 61-26 rout over the No. 2-seeded Martin County West Mavericks in the Section 2A, South Sub-Section championship game in Waterville.

Class A No. 9-ranked WEM (18-3) advances to face No. 3-ranked Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (21-0) for the sectional crown at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Sibley East High School in Arlington. The Knights throttled BOLD (10-5) in the North Sub-Section finals, 94-61.

Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s edged WEM, 62-58, during the two powerhouses’ regular-season clash on March 5.

Martin County West ended its season with a 14-6 overall record.

“She (Pittmann) is our best defender, so I was worried about how healthy her wrist was coming into tonight’s game,” said Kaus, who guided the Bucs to the 2020 Class A state tournament and a quarterfinal victory before the pandemic put an abrupt end to the event prior to the semifinals last March. “After scouting them, we (coaching staff) didn’t want (Emily) Anderson to get any open looks from 3-point range. She (Anderson) is a shooter that once she hits one, it turns into three, four and five 3s, and we didn’t want that.

“I thought Kylie and our entire defense did a great job of shutting down all of their shooters tonight.”

Overall, the Mavericks as a team made just 10 of 31 field goals, including only 2 of 13 behind the 3-point arc.

The Bucs managed to attempt 23 more shots from the field than the Mavericks on the strength of a 3-to-1 positive turnover ratio. WEM committed just 11 turnovers to 32 by MCW on the playoff game.

Pittmann proved an integral cog in the green-and-white’s swarming man-to-man defense that helped trigger first-half offensive surges of 10-0 and 19-3 to build a 38-15 halftime lead.

“Everybody did a nice job of playing good pressure defense for us, while we showed a lot of discipline at the offensive end,” said Kaus, whose lineup buried 6 of its 7 3-pointers during the initial 18 minutes of regulation.

After guard Kari Matejka floated home a runner in the lane to trim MCW’s deficit to 9-7, Richards reeled off four of WEM’s 10-point run off a pair of her five steals, with Bartelt and Allison Rients swooshing trifectas.

Emily Dunlop banked in a low-post leaner off a Marissa Whitehead assist before exiting the game by aggravating her already injured knee.

Pittmann sank a solo free throw to serve as the catalyst behind the Bucs’ 19-3 landslide before she spotted Bartelt for a pair of 3s.

On the back side of MCW center Liv Borchardt’s traditional 3-point play, Bartelt fed Autumn Taylor for a trey before Pittmann knocked down the first of her two 3s on the game to help put WEM ahead by 26 with two minutes left before intermission.

Bartelt and Richards combined for nine points of WEM’s 14-0 run during the middle of the second half to create running time for the duration.

Whitehead finished with a team-leading 11 points for the Mavericks, Emily Anderson netted five points, while Thea Anderson grabbed four rebounds.

Bartelt dished out three assists and pocketed three steals to complement her 18-point performance, while Lindsay Conlon contributed seven points and a game-best seven rebounds to the Bucs’ winning ways.

MCW 15-11–26

WEM 38-23–61

MCW (26)

Dunlop 1-1 0-0 2, Lange 0-2 0-0 0, E. Anderson 2-5 0-0 5, Matejka 1-5 0-0 2, Whitehead 4-5 2-2 11, Larson 1-4 0-0 2, T. Anderson 0-2 1-2 1, Reyes 0-5 0-0 0, Borchardt 1-2 1-1 3, Sanders 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 10-31 4-7 26.

WEM (61)

Richards 6-12 3-3 15, Pittmann 3-8 1-2 9, Condon 3-8 1-3 7, Bartelt 7-16 1-2 18, Ready 1-3 0-0 2, Rients 1-2 0-0 3, Aut. Taylor 2-2 0-1 5, Oorlog 0-0 0-0 0, Add. Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Sammon 1-1 0-2 2, Michael 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 6-13 61.

3-pointers: Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 7-21 (Bartelt 3-9, Pittmann 2-7, Aut. Taylor 1-1, Rients 1-2, Ready 0-1, Michael 0-1); Martin County West 2-13 (Whitehead 1-2, E. Anderson 1-4, Matejka 0-3, Reyes 0-4). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: WEM 26 (Condon 7); MCW 21 (T. Anderson 4). Assists: WEM 13 (Pittmann 4, Bartelt); MCW 1. Steals: WEM 24 (Pittmann 7, Richards 5); MCW 5.

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