LA CROSSE (WFRV) – For 124 years, Mishicot has waited to see a simple moniker next to one of its teams.
Now, after a most unusual year in 2021, the Indians finally have their place in the history books.
The Mishicot girls basketball team ended the all-time drought as the top-seeded Indians came away with the Division 4 title Friday evening in La Crosse.
Mishicot never trailed its battle-tested opponent, Mineral Point, despite squandering a 13-point lead and playing much of the game down the stretch within one possession of the Pointers.
In the end, Mishicot grabbed its 20th straight win, sixth playoff victory, and the all-important gold ball.
“This has been my dream since third grade, to finally get a gold ball,” senior Kylie Schmidt said. “So I’ve just been waiting for this moment and now that it’s finally here, it’s surreal that we get to get to this point.”
The top-ranked team in Division 4 faced its toughest test since December against the Pointers, who drained a state tournament record 13 threes in the semifinal game against Bangor earlier Friday.
Mishicot built a double-digit first half lead behind 16 early points from Schmidt, but Mineral Point came surging back before half behind back-to-back threes from Mallory Lindsey.
The Indians held a 42-36 lead at the break but came out sluggish out of the locker room, with both teams missing layups and airballing three-pointers.
Desiree Kleiman broke the drought with the first basket of the second half and Abby Garceau followed with a long two to extend Mishicot’s lead to double digits once again.
But the Pointers wouldn’t go away. The streaky three-point shooting reappeared for the underdogs as Mineral Point came back to tie it at 55.
The next eight minutes of game play fluctuated between a one- and two-possession ball game, but Mineral Point never held a lead.
With 24 seconds left and Mishicot leading 68-66, the Pointers drew up a play to tie the game – but on the entry pass to the post, Kleiman swatted it away and corralled the loose ball.
Free throws iced the game, and the Indians came away with the 70-66 win.
For Mishicot, the win puts a sense of finality to an unprecedented season that started eight games late following team COVID-19 issues. The Indians started 1-2 after reaching the state semifinals this year, and a title in 2021 seemed like a far stretch.
Nearly three months later – and for the very first time – a gold ball is coming back to Mishicot.
And for five seniors that have played together since third grade, a moment for the history books was half their lives – 10 years – in the making.