Royals earn chance to defend crown
By Mike Warren
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Assumption Royals girls basketball team has once again earned a trip to the WIAA state tournament at the Resch Center in Green Bay, with a convincing 40-26 win over Laona/Wabeno in a Division 5 sectional final March 5 at D.C. Everest High School in Schofield.
The meeting was the first between the two schools in their postseason histories.
Two days earlier, the Royals defeated Edgar for the second time in the playoffs, notching a 50-42 victory over the Wildcats in a sectional semifinal at Marshfield High School. Sarah Shaw led the Royals with 20 points. In their only other postseason meeting, Assumption held off Edgar in a thrilling 53-47 overtime win in a 2019 regional final.
The Royals also got to this year’s sectional round in dramatic fashion, squeaking out a 61-60 victory over Athens in an exciting regional championship game Feb. 26 at Assumption High School, in what turned out to be their closest game of the season. The defending champions trailed 32-26 at halftime, but outscored the Bluejays in the second half 35-28.
Assumption was led by Ainara Sainz de Rozas, with 14 points. Kendall Duellman added 12 and Kayla Kerkman scored 10.
The win was the second over Athens this season, and the fourth in the postseason. The Royals also scored playoff wins over the Bluejays in the regional quarterfinals in 2007, 2016, and 2020, and in the regional semifinals in 2019.
With their postseason run this year, the No. 2-seeded Royals qualified for their seventh overall state tournament appearance.
Four consecutive appearances from 2013-16 resulted in state championships in 2013 and 2016, with runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015.
The Royals also won consecutive WISAA championships in 1998-99. This season, they placed first in the South Division of the Marawood Conference, with a record of 14-2.