Witt-Birn scores first win of season

Three Chargers in double figures
By: 

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s Megan Konkol (30) looks for a teammate to pass to during Thursday’s nonconference win over Wausau East.

After a trio of tough losses to open the season, the Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School girls basketball team finally broke through on Thursday night, claiming a tough 60-48 nonconference win over Wausau East.

It was the Charger trio of junior Olivia Curley and sophomores Amara Schoepke and Emma Herb that did most of the damage, accounting for 46 of the team’s points.

Herb led the way with 20 points despite dealing with foul trouble and spending just over half the game on the court.

“We obviously worked a lot better together tonight,” Herb said. “We could read each other a lot better — a lot of us haven’t been playing together for a while so it was nice to be able to come back in a game that matters and have so much support and people here to cheer us on and make us play better together.”

The first win for the Chargers also came on parent’s night. Players were introduced with their parents prior to the start of the varsity game.

Curley did most of her work in the second half, connecting on a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach and knocking down several free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Schoepke also dealt with foul trouble but provided a big spark off the bench for coach Nick Mechelke.

“I got great minutes tonight from Amara Schoepke,” Mechelke said. “Actually, the last two games she has played really well… I had a little one-on-one with her and told her she needed to be more aggressive and she has been proving that the last two games. She’s been contributing to the full effect of the game.”

After losing several impactful seniors from last year’s team and also dealing with an injury to sophomore Abi Fraaza, a first team all-conference player as a freshman, Witt-Birn came into the season knowing there would be a bit of an adjustment period.

In the team’s 0-3 start, turnovers were a big reason why the Chargers kept coming up a little short. Witt-Birn did not play a clean game on offense on Thursday but did record assists on 20 of 23 field goals.

Senior Erica Wendler finished the contest with nine assists while Curley totaled six. Schoepke dished out three assists.

The Chargers got out to a fast start behind Herb. She scored six of the team’s first eight points and helped the hosts grab a 8-4 advantage. After a Wausau East timeout, Curley buried her first 3-pointer of the night.

Witt-Birn did not trail for a single second in the game, despite Wausau East hanging around for much of the night.

Schoepke provided three big baskets and junior Megan Konkol drilled a 3-pointer to keep the hosts ahead by multiple possessions heading into the break.

After sitting for much of the first half with two fouls, Herb returned to the court to start the second half and got back to work, totaling three more field goals before picking up her fourth foul with 11 minutes, 19 seconds to play.

The Chargers didn’t skip a beat on offense and widened their lead all the way up to 16 with Schoepke and Curley leading the way.

Instead of getting complacent with a comfortable lead, Witt-Birn kept getting to the lane and drawing fouls. The Chargers made 9 of 13 free throw attempts in the second half. For the game, Witt-Birn made 11 of 17 free throws.

Curley pulled down a team-high seven rebounds while Schoepke had six and Herb five. Curley and Wendler each recorded four steals.

Witt-Birn is hoping its first win can be a springboard into conference play, which opens next week.

“It’s good for these girls — we are young and don’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Mechelke said. “So to get this one on parent’s night is always a good feeling. And to go into conference starting next week, hopefully we can get some confidence for these young kids and roll into conference and play well.”

The Chargers will travel to take on Bonduel on Tuesday.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood (60)

Erica Wendler 3-4 5, Chloe King 0-0 2, Olivia Curley 4-8 14, Megan Konkol 2-2 7, Amara Schoepke 0-0 12, Emma Herb 2-3 20.

Wausau East (48)

Addy Thompson 2-2 12, Gabby Braatz 1-4 6, Hailey Koehler 0-0 3, Elizabeth Boulanger 0-0 19, Malaya Merriwether 6-10 6, Elisie Ambord 0-0 2.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood 24 36 — 60

Wausau East 17 31 — 48