By Robert Whitmire
Trailing 19-3 at the mid-way point of the first half, the SPASH girls basketball team could easily have folded their tents and headed home.
Determination not to disappoint the home crowd, however, led the Panthers to a thrilling 74-73 overtime win over Wausau West to improve their record to 4-4 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and 8-10 overall. West now drops to 3-5 in the conference, 9-7 overall.
West held a commanding 25-10 lead with 7:15 left in the first half and led at the break 37-24.
Holding a 52-44 advantage with 8:47 on the clock in the second half SPASH came roaring back with a 16-4 run that put the Panthers up 60-58 with 3:12 left in regulation play.
Deadlocked at 62 apiece at the buzzer SPASH went on to outscore the Warriors 12-11 to cap off the improbable come-from-behind win.
Solid play under the basket on both ends of the court,two big blocked shots, and some timely shooting by senior Lauren Gerads helped fuel the Panthers win. Gerads ended the night hitting 5 or 6 shots from the free throw line and a total of 13 points.
Leading the Panther scoring was Maggie Negaard who lit up the board with 31 points including 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. Negaard leads the Wisconsin Valley Conference in scoring averaging 24.7 points per game.
Rounding out the scoring for SPASH were Rachel Sullivan (9), Halle Gregorich (6), Taylor Beadles (5), Halle Pavelski (4), Brooke Tuszka (3), Kaylin Kostuchowski (2), and Hannah Worzella (1).
The SPASH junior varsity girls pounded the Warriors 62-12. Scoring for the Panthers were Jenna Bohanski (11), Maddie Fink and Kaylee Hintz (10), Abby Gemza (9), Sadie Adamski (8), Rachel Lummis and Carissa Czerneski (5), and Lillyanna Gignac (4).
SPASH returns to action at Marshfield High School on Friday, January 29 and will play the first game of a girls-boys double header starting at 6 PM. They return to the SPASH Fieldhouse on Friday, Feb. 5 as hosts to Wisconsin Rapids.
Scheduled tip-off is 6 PM with the boys varsity to follow.