Panthers clinch 1st conference title in program history

Kietlinski breaks 2,000 career points

Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Bowler High School senior Reanne Kietlinski outpaces Marion’s Abby Polzin for a layup during Thursday’s 55-32 victory that sealed the Panthers’ Central Wisconsin Conference-North championship.

Leader photo by Jacy Zollar The Bowler High School girls basketball team celebrates senior Reanne Kietlinski’s 2,000 points and the team’s Central Wisconsin Conference-North championship. The team includes, from left, back, Alyssa Strassburg, Tynea Johnson, Ireland DeRoos, Kayla Pecore, Jodi Wolf, Jada Waters, Brooke Thiex, Lilly Wisnefske; front, Jayla LeMieux, Reanne Kietlinski and Calista Miller.

The Bowler girls basketball team made history on Thursday as the first conference champion in the 44 years since the progam’s start.

The Panthers clinched sole possession of the Central Wisconsin Conference-North after a 55-32 home victory over Marion.

“I can’t put this moment into words,” said Calista Miller, who is one of three seniors on the team. “We’ve worked so hard for this. It’s just a fantastic thing to be able to do this for ourselves and our coaches and community. The amount of people that come out to support us is amazing, people will drive a couple hours to come watch us play and that just means the world to us, it makes this moment extra special.”

“It feels great to be able to get play time this year and part of a big thing like conference champions,” senior Jayla Lemieux said. “I feel like we’ll always be remembered for this, it’ll be a big part of this small community. I just hope we can continue doing big things in the tournament, and I think we’re capable of it.”

The night was especially monumental for senior Reanne Kietlinski, who broke 2,000 high school career points to become the 18th all-time leading scorer in Wisconsin history with 2,018 points. The senior hit her 2,000th point on a free throw midway through the first half.

“I feel almost relieved in a sense,” Kietlinski said, “because everyones been asking, ‘When are you going to reach 2,000?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m just trying to win the conference and better myself and the team.’ But it feels really good, just to bring my school and teammates and my dad and myself a sense of accomplishment.

“It was kind of funny because I was wondering how I was going to hit it, on either a 3-pointer or two more baskets, and then I got to the line and knew I had to hit both to get it, and ended up hitting it on a free throw. I just felt so good after, and it was a really chill way to hit 2,000.”

“I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on her,” head coach and father Ted Kietlinski said. “I knew if she just kept chipping away at it, it would come. We’re very happy that it got to happen here in front of a home crowd, because she’s had tremendous support from everybody here. Personally, I know it’s cliche, but it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Coach Kietlinski knew early on that Reanne, who is just the 21st player in state history to break 2,000 points, was capable of posting big numbers throughout her career.

“I remember when she was a freshman, she averaged about 14½ points per game, and I remember thinking 1,000 points is probably very achievable at this rate. Sophomore year she averaged 22½ per game and we realized not only would she achieve it, but it’d probably be early achievable, which she did achieve December of junior year. So then I realized that if she had another season like her previous couple years, 2,000 points was within reach. So she’s just continued to chip away at these milestones, and it’s been a joy to watch.”

Reanne, who contributed 25 points on Thursday to lead the Panthers to victory, averages 25.6 points per game this season. To her, the individual stats were just a means to the team’s achievement.

“I honestly can’t put that one into words,” she said of winning the conference title. “That, to me, almost means more than getting 2,000 points, because of this program, because the players and coaches have put so much time into this. To achieve something we haven’t done in 44 years of girls basketball is really, really special to me.”

Coach Kietlinski said the team’s determination this season as underdogs in the CWC-North is what set them apart.

“This really was the girls’ work,” he said. “My role was just getting them into positions where we could get the most out of them and get them to buy into their role. This group just seemed to own their roles more than any other group we’ve had.

“We weren’t picked to win the conference, so the girls really set that goal in the summer and just started working towards that right off the bat. I always tell the girls it’s a sprint mentality. When you’re in a game, whether it’s offense or defense, if you have a sprint mentality really good things can happen and I think we saw that manifest itself in this team and we were ultimately able to get the result we set out for.”

For the three seniors, the accomplishment was particularly significant.

“It’s very bittersweet being a senior because this year was just so special, and although this is amazing, it’s sad that our run on this team is coming to an end.” Miller said.

“To be able to go out and say we made history in this school my senior year…I wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way, that’s for sure,” Reanne Kietlinski added.

Bowler (55)

Tynea Johnson 0-0 4; Jayla LeMieux 0-0 4; Ireland DeRoos 0-1 4; Lilly Wisnefske 2-3 4; Reanne Kietlinski 5-7 25; Alyssa Strassburg 2-2 4; Jodi Wolf 1-2 4; Kayla Pecore 2-6 6.

Marion (32)

Kayla Jung 0-0 2; Megan Radcliffe 0-0 2; Bridget Bazil 1-2 5; Kyla Zillmer 0-2 3; Elizabeth Radke 0-0 2; Nancy Taha 0-3 2; Abby Polzin 1-2 3; Tessa Brei 7-12 13.

Bowler 27 28 — 55

Marion 14 18 — 32