Second-half domination powers Appleton North to title game

Appleton North's Kari Brekke looks to drive against the defense of Milwaukee King during their state semifinal game Friday at the Resch Center. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- What a difference a year makes for the Appleton North girls basketball team.

Twelve months ago the Lightning was dominated by eventual state champion Verona in a Division 1 state semifinal, but Friday night it was Appleton North's turn to dominate.

After leading by just one point at halftime, the Lightning shifted into overdrive and dominated Milwaukee King in the second half en route to a 75-52 win between undefeated teams in a Division 1 state semifinal at the Resch Center.

"It was better than last year," North coach Joe Russom said. "I thought our kids executed very well what we wanted them to do. King is a great team."

"I mean, last year we lost by 30 and that is a big difference," senior guard Callie Pohlman said. "Winning by 20 now I just think we are just so much more prepared this year last year we were really happy to just to get to that point and obviously Verona is a amazing team but this year we know we can do it and we weren't just content on being at state. We are ready to win it all."

Photos: Appleton North-Milwaukee King

It looks like North (27-0) is after what it did to King (25-1) in the second half, outscoring the Generals, 43-21. North played great basketball, shooting 60 percent from the floor (12 for 20). In addition, for the game the Lightning assisted on 18 of 24 made field goals.

Appleton North-Milwaukee boxscore

North's depth showed as five players scored in double figures: Sydney Levy (19 points), Kari Brekke (14), Paige Schabo (12), Pohlman (12) and reserve Anna Laux (10). That outweighed King's 6-4 center Sydnee Roby who scored 17 points had 12 rebounds and six blocked shots before fouling out.

"I think we settled down," Russom said in regards to his team's second-half play. "We came in at halftime and I joked with them a little bit and it lightened them up. Nerves play a big deal. These kids know what's on the line. It's hard."

North will play De Pere in Saturday's title game and the Lightning has never won a gold ball. After watching how the Lightning played Friday, North has to like it chances, especially after beating 25-0 team.

"I think when we got here we were more ready for it and the nerves were a lot less this year," Levy said. "For me, I could tell throughout the team that everybody was more ready for it and it was more excitement to go out there than nerves."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay