Sara Mallegni said she was exhausted, but in a good way.
Who could blame her for all that fatigue.
The head coach of the McFarland High School girls’ basketball team saw her athletes engage in another see-saw battle for the second consecutive night of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 regional round.
Freshman Teagan Mallegni’s 21 points and 14 points by senior Katie Hildebrandt led the way to a regional title in a 51-43 triumph Feb. 13 over Madison Edgewood in a game played at Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills. The victory came 24 hours after McFarland rode another rollercoaster game at Sauk Prairie and came up with a 72-67 win.
The victory against the Crusaders put the Spartans into the sectional round for the first time since 2014 when Coach Mallegni’s predecessor Pete Williquette was beginning his first year at the helm.
The Crusaders came at the Spartans will a couple of talented seniors, 6 foot 1 Deang Baluck, averaging 11.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, and 6 foot 3 Sarah Lazar who led the team with a 14.4 points per game average.
But 5 foot 11 Teagan Mallegni and 6 foot 2 Katie Hildebrandt, who has signed a letter of intent to play Division 1 women’s college basketball at North Dakota State University, kept the duo under control in the first half. Lazar had only one point and Deang, a team-leading six, as McFarland led 26-20 at the half. Teagan Mallegni scored 11 first-half points and Hildebrandt had nine.
In the second half, it looked like McFarland might run away with the game as a 3-point basket and layup by Teagan Mallegni on consecutive possessions put McFarland ahead 31-20 with 14:33 remaining. But Deang and Lazar started to heat up as the two scored all the points in a 9-0 run to tie the game 33-33 with 8:47 to go.
McFarland went on its own 9-0 run when sophomore Adrienne Kirch and Teagan Mallegni both scored on layups, and senior Lindsey Lonigro hit a three and another layup to put the Spartans ahead 42-33. The Crusaders fought to cut the lead to 45-43 with 2:02 remaining, but McFarland pitched a shutout the rest of the way by scoring the final six points.
Lonigro also achieved double figures with 11 points including three shots from the arc.
Deang led Edgewood with 13 points and Lazar had 11. The Crusaders hit just two 3-pointers in the first half, but none in the second half, as the team couldn’t get its perimeter shots to fall.
The Crusaders ended their season with a record of 17-7.