Tuesday battle against Grove biggest test of season for Burlington

Burlington senior Jackie Garwood scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds Friday night. (Jake Hill/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


BURLINGTON – For a team that lost handily at Union Grove, the three-time defending Southern Lakes Conference champions, earlier this season, the Burlington girls basketball team isn’t sweating the Lady Broncos.

And why should they?

Tuesday’s SLC showdown is at Burlington High School, a place where the Demons are 3-0 in conference play this season, including a 57-52 victory over a talented Lake Geneva Badger team Friday night.

Seniors Jackie Garwood and Hannah Ketterhagen said after last night’s game they’re confident star senior Jessa Burling can disrupt Grove scoring machine Brooklyn Bull, and they added that Burlington’s trapping, pressure half-court defense should be able to cause the Broncos fits.

There’s only one issue – Union Grove is really good.

At 8-0 in the SLC, Bull is only 74 points away from breaking the school’s all-time scoring record. The 14-2 Broncos feature Bull and point guard Alyssa Kus as floor leaders, Angela Slattery and Taylor each add 10 points per game to complement Bull’s 18.

Kus has become a passing machine, with 4 assists per contest.

While the Grove has the depth to make a strong playoff push in Division 2, Burlington is no slouch.

The Lady Demons are enjoying their best season under fourth-year coach Mary Parker at 11-6 and 7-2 in the SLC.

It’s not a coincidence that Burling, the BHS all-time leader in scoring, rebounds and assists and the 2017 Western Racine County All-Area Female Athlete of the Year, is at her best in her senior season.

Alyssa Kus’ ability to penetrate and dish has opened things up for Union Grove shooters, who have connected on 87 3-pointers in 16 games (14-2). (Jake Hill/SLN)

Everyone gets into act

On Friday night, Burling had another all-world game, something that has become a given, with 23 points, 14 rebounds, seven steals and three assists.

“Tonight we kept our composure against their pressure defense, and that made all the difference,” Parker said. “When we were able to get the ball down the middle of the court we were able to get looks around the basket, and we finished down low.”

“On defense, we did a good job rebounding, and moving well on the pass on our rotations.”

If Burlington can rely on balanced scoring like Friday, it will have a strong chance to upset the Broncos.

Garwood scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Amelia Crabtree added nine points.

Cassidy Askin scored four points, hauled in four rebounds, dished six assists and snatched four steals.

The Demons punished Badger inside, getting to the line 28 times and converting 19 of those.

Badger outscored the Demons, 34-31, and almost came all the way back, thanks to Courtney Oomens scoring 13 of her 15 in the second half.

Chloe Kleeman added 16 points for Badger.

But Burling answered the Badgers blow for blow in the final 18 minutes, reeling off 15 of her game-high 23, nine of which came at the foul line.

The Demons gave up five 3-pointers and didn’t hit a single one, something the Broncos will no doubt try to expose Tuesday.

In the Grove’s last game, a 77-39 thrashing of Westosha Jan. 18, Bull hit 4 of the team’s 11 triples. Slattery and Heather Fortner each added two.

Union Grove finished with 31 assists, led by Kus’ seven.

Union Grove freshman Angela Slattery averages 10 points per game. (Jake Hill/SLN)

Grove can light it up from 3

On the season, Union Grove has hit 87 3-pointers, led by Bull’s 35. Both Bull and Kus connect on better than 30 percent of their outside shots, a solid mark for high school ball. Seven Broncos have made at least one triple.

For Burlington, Caitlin Matson has hit 17 treys to lead the team, but only Matson, Burling (4-12) and Cora Anderson have made a 3-pointer.

If the Demons can extend their half-court defense to disrupt passing lanes and bother shooters, much like they effectively did against Delavan-Darien and Waterford, they can play to their strength with a low-scoring, defensive struggle.

It’s clear Tuesday will be a clash of styles, as the Grove’s elite outside game will rely on ball movement and shooting, while Burlington will try to allow Burling and Crabtree, among others, drive hard to the paint and get to the line.

And don’t be surprised if the Lady Broncos force the issue with pressure. Burlington has handled it well with other squads, but Bull and Kus are the most formidable back-court duo in the conference.

It will be a different animal.

Burlington knocked off Union Grove at home last season and generally plays better at the friendly confines of the newly-christened Kahl Court.

Buckle up, western Racine County hoops fans, Tuesday night will be worth the three bucks.

Burlington guard Hannah Ketterhagen contributed two assists Friday night. (Jake Hill/SLN)