Hawks clinch conference opener in final seconds

DePerry scores 22 2nd-half points
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Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School junior Hailey Buschman passes the ball to senior Brandi Gueths during Friday’s Bay Conference victory over Xavier. Buschman scored the game-winning layup with 2 seconds remaining to seal the Hawks 58-56 win.

Hailey Buschman drove to the basket with 2 seconds remaining to seal a 58-56 victory in Shawano’s first Bay Conference game against Xavier on Friday.

Kennedy Klemens knocked in a 3-pointer for Shawano with 6 seconds on the clock to tie the game. Buschman secured the ball from a Xavier throw-in and drove to the basket for an easy layup at 2 seconds remaining and a botched half-court shot attempt by Xavier’s Sarah Dombrowski sealed the victory for Shawano (2-2, 1-0 Bay).

“I am so proud of the girls,” Shawano head coach Ryan Koenig said. “They worked their butts off. We were a team tonight. The first three games I didn’t really feel like we had that team mentality, and tonight I really do.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit. We weren’t expecting to come out 1-2 on the season. We’ve had close games but just couldn’t get over the hump, and hopefully tonight gets us over that hump to get the ball rolling on the season.”

The Hawks battled back-and-forth with Xavier after trailing 31-24 at the half. Koenig said slow starts have been common for the Hawks this season.

“We always come from behind and have to fight in the second half,” he said. “Tonight, we kept switching leads, and we stayed there mentally and didn’t give up. There were a lot of times that we could have given up, and the girls didn’t. That’s why I’m so proud.”

Shawano and Xavier battled through 15 lead changes over the course of the game, eight of which came in the second half.

Koenig said a game-changer in the final half was the emergence of Tori DePerry, who recorded 22 second-half points after going scoreless in the first half.

“Tori wanted to win more than anyone out there,” he said. “That’s what turned us around. She got hot, and that gave us confidence. That’s why she’s a leader for us.”

DePerry said she was hungry to help her team after fouling twice in the first half.

“I had those two fouls and I was sitting on the bench so eager to go back in during the first half, but I didn’t get back in,” DePerry said. “All I was thinking at halftime was that I just really want to help us right now. I just wanted to get that win for us so bad. In the second half my legs were fresh, I was ready to go.”

And ready, she was.

After Xavier (0-1, 0-1) made the first bucket of the second half, DePerry scored Shawano’s next eight points and drained a 3-pointer to force Xavier to take a time out. Shawano’s Kayla Ward and Klemens took the next five points to give Shawano the lead, which ultimately led to Buschman’s game-winning shot.

Koenig was at a loss for words when describing Buschman’s execution in those final moments.

“I honestly didn’t know what to think during that,” he said. “I was kind of flabbergasted that she saw that pass come in there and that she saw it and got it, because we were playing a soft zone and letting them get the ball, but Hailey just made a great judgment call. And really, as soon as she stole it, I knew she had that shot.”

DePerry led Shawano with 22 points, followed by Rachel Reed with nine, all from 3-pointers, and Buschman with nine.

Xavier’s Sarah Dombrowski led with 15 points and Hannah Lauer followed with 10.

Shawano (58)

K. Klemens 3 1-3 4; R. Reed 1 0-0 9; H. Buschman 2 5-8 9; T. DePerry 4 4-6 22; K. Ward 3 3-4 8; H. Wendorff 4 1-4 3; B. Gueths 4 4-7 4.

Xavier (56)

S. Zubella 4 0-1 4; I. Ballard 1 3-5 3; B. Vande Hey 2 2-2 8; C. Dombrowski 2 3-4 9; A. Engels 2 3-6 7; H. Lauer 5 2-2 10; S. Dombrowski 4 1-3 15.

Shawano 24 34 — 58

Xavier 31 25 — 56