By RICK SOLEM
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. - A free throw, that's what ended the Central High School's girls basketball season, a game ... a point away from a state championship bid.
The Red Raiders lost in the WIAA Division 2 state semifinals to fifth-ranked DeForest 43-42 Friday at the Resch Center.
It all ended when Kayla Goth drove baseline and found Jordanna Midthun with a wrap-around pass to the middle of the lane.
In a tie game down to the final seconds, the sophomore missed the bunny from in front of the rim but was fouled.
With 2.5 seconds remaining, she had two freebies to all but end the Central's season.
The 6-footer missed the first free throw very short, indicating she may have been just a little nervous.
The Red Raiders (21-6) called timeout. Midthun was given the ball for her second attempt to put DeForest (26-1) ahead and the horn sounded. The referee took the ball back and the process started all over again.
Maybe the horn iced her even more, maybe it reset her frame of mind ... or maybe it did nothing, but she rattled in the free throw for the lead.
Central called another timeout to come up with a plan to go the length of the court. The best it could come up with, however, was a half-court heave that hit nothing and came after the buzzer, anyway.
Things didn't look good for the Red Raiders in the first quarter, as DeForest got out to a 19-6 lead.
Then the scratching and clawing began. Midway through the second quarter, Brittany Baldwin’s layup tied it up, and the free throw to complete the three-point play put the Red Raiders on top for the first time in the game.
The two teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter and, in the fourth, Central had itself a four-point lead thanks to a 3-pointer by Katlyn Roesch and, soon after, a pair of free throws by Baldwin.
That, however was the last field goal, and then the last points, the Red Raiders would score. After Roesch’s bucket, Central went 0-for-6 from the field with five turnovers in the final 7 minutes, 20 seconds.
Baldwin’s free throws were followed by three consecutive turnovers, though they only led to two points.
For 4 minutes, 15 seconds neither team scored. It wasn’t until a pair of free throws with 1:31 remaining by Goth that DeForest tied the game.
On the ensuing possession, instead of trying to hold possession for the final 1:31, Central missed a bucket with 1:10 remaining.
Goth, all 6 feet of her, blocked the shot – her seventh of the game - and teammate Arianna Opsahl secured the rebound. The Norskies elected for one shot and held the ball until those final seconds when Goth drove and found Midthun, ending Central’s run to its third state-title game – first since back-to-back second-place finishes in 1994 and 1995.
Goth nearly finished with a triple double – a quadruple double if you count her seven turnovers. She had 20 points (6-12 FGs, 7-10 FTs), eight rebounds, those seven blocks, four steals and three assists.
DeForest outrebounded Central 40-24 and 17-5 on the offensive end. Jenna Kramer scored 16, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, to lead the Red Raiders, while Baldwin added 12 points (2-10 FGs, 8-12 FTs), five rebounds, four assists, three steals a block and six turnovers.
Central shot 14-for-37 from the field and held DeForest to an abysmal 14-for-45 (31.1 percent). Either team could have won things from the free-throw line. Central was 9 of 15, while the Norskies were 13 of 21.
The Red Raiders were outscored 20-10 in the paint and 23-15 off turnovers. Those 17 offensive rebounds led to 13 points. Central had zero second-chance points.