Chippewa Falls McDonell went 15 years without a win over Eau Claire Regis.
Now, for the first time in school history, the Macks have a season sweep of their former CWCC rivals.
Abby Opsal, one of five seniors playing for the last time on the Ramblers court, had 22 points and McDonell (16-4, 11-3) fought off a second-half charge to come away with a 58-54 win in Western Cloverbelt action Tuesday night.
“I think it’s definitely at the top for us,” senior Payton Swoboda said about where the victory, the Macks’ third in four tries against the Ramblers, ranks.
The win was also cause for celebration for Osseo-Fairchild. The Thunder are now tied with Regis atop the conference and can wrap up a share of their first WCC title since 2010 with a win Friday at Altoona. The Ramblers can wrap up their share of yet another title with a win Friday at Thorp.
Much like in the first game between the teams, Regis (12-7, 11-2) struggled with McDonell’s quickness and length, and early foul trouble down low for Teryn Karlstad and Marne Milanowski led to a big first-half run for the Macks.
Opsal, who had a game-high 21 points in the first meeting, found space to work inside, while the Macks’ penetration and ball movement led to open looks from the outside. They hit eight 3s in the game, with freshman Maggie Craker hitting three in an 11-point first half and Abby Wampler knocking down four. Wampler’s biggest shot came with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left, with McDonell holding a two-point lead. The junior hit her third 3 of the half to push the lead to five. The Macks knocked down their free throws to put it away.
“It was just the patience with the offense,” McDonell coach Don Cooper said. “The main thing is we just value every possession. We break down the defense, and we’re getting a valued shot out of it.”
The Macks’ athleticism also gave the Ramblers fits on the other end.
“We were really trying to put on a lot of ball pressure and get them off their game a little bit,” Opsal said. “I think we did that really well and we had great help defense, so if someone got beat, there was another defender right there to step in.”
Senior Amber Darge had 16 points to lead Regis, while junior Morgan Rohrscheib hit three 3s and had 12 points in one of her best games of the season. Karlstad fought through the foul trouble and finished with 12 points — including eight in the second half.
Darge knocked down a 3 midway through the second half to tie a game that the Macks once led by 14, but down the stretch it was just too much Wampler and Opsal.
“(McDonell is) really athletic, they get after it, they hustle after loose balls,” Ramblers coach Patrick Boughton said. “We needed to match that intensity tonight and we just didn’t.”