Lancers' slow start too much to overcome in state semifinal

Manitowoc Lutheran lost to Melrose-Mindoro, 64-30, in a Division 4 girls state semifinal game Thursday at the Resch Center. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- Manitowoc Lutheran aimed all season for the state tournament and Thursday the day arrived as the Lancers played undefeated Melrose-Mindoro in a Division 4 state semifinal.

What transpired in the 36 minutes of game time, however, is not what Lutheran hoped for.

M-M scored the game's first 14 points and never looked back, spoiling the Lancers' first trip to the state tournament with a 64-30 win at the Resch Center.

No. 3 seeded Lutheran (21-5) turned the ball over 17 times in the first half and trailed 41-11 at halftime as it looked overwhelmed by the moment.

"I think this stage for us was a little too much emotionally," Lutheran coach Mike Behnke said. "We were a little nervous and it was obvious in the first half."

The Lancers shot 26 percent (12 for 46) as they could not overcome the length of M-M (27-0), which had nine blocks, including four each from Emily Herzberg and Mesa Byom, who also had a game-high 12 rebounds.

"I think that was a big factor," Behnke said of the length. "They list (Byom) at 6-1. I think she's taller than 6-1. She has to be at least 6-3 and with her wingspan she can really do a great job of taking away so much space. I thought their length hurt us."

While the season didn't end the way Lutheran hoped, it has a lot to look forward to, with the likes of juniors Emily Behnke and Grace Melso returning. This was the greatest season in program history with a trip to the state tournament for the first time, but the second trip might not be too far away -- next year, maybe?

"We've never been here before," Behnke said. "Moving forward I think it will helps us. The younger kids are hungry and want to try to get back here next year."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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