Repeat Complete: North wins second straight state title

Appleton North beat Mukwonago, 45-32, to win the Division 1 state title Saturday at the Resch Center. (WLUK/Doug Ritchay)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- Halfway through Saturday's Division 1 state title game Appleton North held a 23-17 lead on Mukwonago.

If the Lightning was going to repeat as state champs it knew the start of the second half would be important so North did what a championship-caliber teams does -- steps into a higher gear.

North outscored the Indians, 16-2, to open the half and never looked back, beating Mukwonago, 45-32, to complete the repeat at the Resch Center.

"There was never doubt in my mind," North senior guard Sydney Levy said. "Obviously against good teams like this, typically in most of our games, either conference or non-conference we tend to get a big run like the 16-2 (run) we had in the first half, but with better teams and better competition that tends to come later. We just had to stay patient and the second half we made that run.

"I believe in our team 100 percent and I knew we would pick it up."

North-Mukwonago boxscore

North coach Joe Russom said the 16-2 run wasn't sparked by some sort of speech.

"My halftime speech was pretty simple," Russom said. "It wasn't x's and o's. It wasn't anything flashy. It was Aaron Rodgers, 'Relax.' Then I danced a little bit, they laughed and loosened them up. We were just playing tight and that's to be expected because of the nature of the game."

Levy led all scorers with 17 points, closing a brilliant high school career and her teammate, Kari Brekke, also shined in her final game, scoring 11 points and once again playing a solid floor game and led a defense that limited the Indians to 13-of-41 shooting (32 percent).

Offensively, No. 4 -seeded North was terrific in the second half, making 10-of-12 shots (83 percent). That enabled the Lightning (24-4) to run away with a state title for the second year in a row.

"It's pretty crazy that last year we were celebrating a state title for the first time and this year we get to experience it again," Brekke said. "Not many girls even get to play at the Resch Center let alone win two state titles. It's surreal."

North coach Joe Russom expected a battle based on Mukwonago's talent and 25-2 record. However, his team opened the game by scoring the game's first 10 points.

He was impressed how his team dealt with playing the No. 2 seed.

"One of the differences between this and regionals is regionals you're playing a 16 and then an eighth seed," Russom said. "Here you're playing a really good team (in the semifinals) and then a great team (in the championship) and that takes a toll on you mentally and physically but I was very impressed with how our girls handled it."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay