IC Catholic can't stop unbeaten Walther Christian
IC Catholic Prep faced an uphill climb in Saturday's Class 2A Walther Christian regional final.
But that didn't stop junior Hannah Johnson from giving an all-out effort, even after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Johnson, who had 4 points, 5 assists and 3 steals, took a charge in the final minute and made a steal in the closing seconds of the Knights' 55-31 loss to unbeaten and top-seeded Walther Christian.
The final score was not indicative of the fight the sixth-seeded Knights put up despite playing without their leading scorer, freshman Claire Wagner, who suffered a concussion in Thursday's 52-28 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Willows.
"It was very intimidating to come here and play a team that we've never played before," Johnson said. "All we know is that they're undefeated, so we tried to come in here with the most positive attitude we could and we're always a team that works hard.
"Our passion comes before anything else and we're all passionate about basketball."
Walther (27-0) opened the game with a 14-4 run, but the Knights tightened their defense and made the Broncos work hard for every point. ICCP made things interesting in the third quarter when Johnson scored and was fouled on a drive before missing the ensuing free throw.
Johnson rebounded the missed free throw and fed senior Jaida Smith for a floater that cut the deficit to 37-29 with 2:45 left in the period.
"We're fast and we're aggressive," Johnson said. "We're not easily intimidated and when we are, we don't let that affect our work ethic."
The Knights (11-18) were still within striking distance after the third quarter, but the Broncos opened the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 47-21.
"(ICCP is) a good, young team," Walther coach Todd Fisher said. "We play streaky sometimes and we just had to get back into a rhythm and a flow.
"I felt we played a solid first half. Third quarter could have been better, but we said going into the fourth, I think you're in better shape and now it's time to turn it on."
The Broncos did just that behind the play of junior guard Kalvina Evans. The Wisconsin-Milwaukee commit nearly single-handedly outscored the Knights, finishing with 27 points to go with 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Tasia Jordan added 10 points and 15 rebounds for Walther.
Smith had 12 points for the Knights, but no other player had more than 4 points as ICCP struggled shooting, finishing 12 for 58 from the floor and 5 for 19 from the line.
"(The Broncos) have been putting 80 points on the board every game, so it's frustrating to lose in the fourth," ICCP coach Kelsey James said. "But we're playing a bunch of juniors and sophomores, so it's all we can ask for is that they compete.
"They never give up and their heart is truly in it and they'll work hard. I will take a team like that every single day. Anyone that's going to work for four quarters, I appreciate it."
Johnson takes pride in doing so.
"It was a teamwork game and it didn't work in our favor," Johnson said. "But at least we know that our season ended with everybody giving it all that they had."
The Knights graduate only three players, though point guard Smith will be missed.
"I'm excited to come back," Johnson said. "We're a really good team on and off the court, so if we just continue to build our skill next year, I think we'll be just fine."