Lightning one win away from defending state title

Appleton North beat Arrowhead, 52-38, in a Division 1 state semifinal at the Resch Center on Friday. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- Appleton North senior Kari Brekke earlier this week called the state tournament a business trip and Friday night the Lightning was back to business as it was taking on top-seeded Arrowhead in a Division 1 state semifinal at the Resch Center.

Coming off maybe its most impressive win of the season -- a 24-point thumping of Kimberly in a sectional final -- North picked up where it left off.

The Lightning opened with a 10-2 run, never trailed and beat the Warhawks, 52-38, to advance to Saturday's title game against No. 2 Mukwonago.

Afterward, North coach Joe Russom talked about being the No. 4 seed in a four-team bracket.

"We were the fourth seed so I guess we are the shock of the tournament so far," he said. "I love how our kids just battled, how we played. "

North-Arrowhead boxscore

Russom did talk about how all four teams in Division 1 were similar, even they went about getting it done different ways. So he never thought the seed meant too much.

What did matter was how North (23-4) played. Despite being smaller, the Lightning whipped the Warhawks (24-3) on the boards, winning the rebounding battle, 37-21.

"We were undersized," Russom said. "I think they walked out bigger kids than I've ever had in my program."

Additionally, senior Sydney Levy played like the season was on the line, because it was, scoring 20 points and hauling down nine rebounds.

Making its third straight trip to the state tournament, Levy and Co. looked comfortable on the "big stage."

"Having the experience and being here for a third time definitely helps," Levy said. "That calm that we had before the game was like another game. Obviously the stakes were higher but that comfort that we had really helped us."

Saturday night the season comes to an end and North can win its second straight state title. This was the goal the first day of practice and now it could be a reality.

"We worked super hard for this opportunity," junior Paige Schabo said. "It would obviously be nice to come back and get the gold ball, so it would mean the world if we could win tomorrow."

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