The WIAA Division 5 state semifinal between Newman Catholic and Clayton can be defined as a game of two halves.
The Cardinals, who lost at this stage in last year’s state tournament, owned the first half. Junior Julia Seidel was outstanding for her team. She was a perfect 5-5 from the field; four of those shots came from beyond the arc.
With a dominant performance from Seidel and the rest of the Cardinals shooting at 52 percent compared to the Bears 31 percent, Newman was able to head into the break with a ten point lead.
“Running our offense well executed, we got open shots for us, and like coach said, in the second half we shied away from that and that was really the difference,” Seidel said.
Newman’s head coach Jason Vanden Elzen said his team wasn’t the same after halftime–turnovers caused by Clayton’s relentless defensive pressure was the cause of destruction.
“In regards to pressure, they were playing intense man to man pressure and we couldn’t handle it,” Vanden Elzen said. “It’s been our big thing all year. We need to handle the basketball and 18 turnovers for the Cardinals and 11 for the Bears is the difference in the game right there.”
The Bears stifling defense managed to keep the Cardinals offense off rhythm the entire second half, holding Newman to just two points in the final 12 minutes of the game.
“To lead three quarters of the game, and a couple 50/50 balls don’t go our way and that’s the difference in the game right there,” Vanden Elzen said. “We got complacent at times and you can’t do that against a good team like Clayton and on the big court we had the opportunity to push sometimes and we didn’t do that.”
Newman will get another shot next year; the Cardinals return all but one player on their roster for the 2019-2020 season.