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A big stage for a big star: Neenah's Ziebell will finish prolific prep career at state tournament

Allie Ziebell has put together one of the most decorated high school basketball careers in Wisconsin history, but the Neenah star says the chance to play at the state tournament "means the most."
Posted at 9:03 PM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 22:03:11-05

NEENAH, Wis. (NBC 26) — One of the best basketball players in the history of the Fox Valley will finish off her high school career on the state's biggest stage.

Neenah star Allie Ziebell scored 31 points Saturday as the Rockets beat Hortonville in a WIAA sectional final. Now, she'll look to close her prolific prep career with a state championship.

  • Earlier this season, Ziebell was named a McDonald's All-American. She's just the seventh player in state history to earn the honor, and the first from the Fox Valley.
  • Last summer, she won a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup playing on Team USA's U-19 team.
  • She is a three-time All-State selection and the state's reigning Gatorade Player of the Year.
  • Ziebell is Neenah's all-time leading scorer and ranks fourth in state history with 2,744 career points.
  • Ziebell is committed to play college basketball at UConn, which is historically the best women's college basketball program in the country.
  • The Rockets are making their first trip to state since 2009.
  • It is their eighth state tournament appearance all-time; the program previously won a state title in 1978.

Allie Ziebell's youth career is about as decorated as they come.
"She's a gold medalist for Team USA's U19 team, a McDonald's All-American," Neenah head coach Andy Braunel said. "(And there are) more accolades coming."

Just about the only thing she hasn't done is play in the WIAA state tournament, but that will change Friday night.

"(It's) very fitting," Ziebell said. "I feel like I have accomplished a lot of my personal goals. But team goals - getting to state - I have not gotten there yet. So I feel like for this team it was a huge deal."

Neenah had fallen one game short of state in each of the past two seasons.

In Saturday's sectional final, Ziebell led the way with 31 points as the Rockets finally broke through, taking down conference rival Hortonville 82-72 in front of a sold out crowd at Appleton East High School.

"I think we brought so much energy," Ziebell said. "Even the crowd and the community, they all showed up for it."

"The type of crowds that we've had are just phenomenal," Braunel said. "I think it's great to see girls basketball get that type of attention and get that type of enthusiasm because it sure deserves it. And she's helped build that."

Up next, Ziebell will play college ball at Connecticut. There could be more gold medals and maybe even a chance to play professionally.

But first, she'll finish out her Neenah career on the state's biggest stage.

"There's no better way," Braunel smiled. "So we're thankful that we have that opportunity to finish it there."

Of all the accolades, this one means the most.

"This feeling and experience is ranked the highest to me," Ziebell said. "Just because this means so much. (My teammates have) been a part of my life since I started playing. So I think this means the most."

Neenah plays Hartford in the state semifinal round on Friday night. Tip-off is set for around 8:15 at the Resch Center.

The tournamentbegins Thursday with Divisions 3 and 4. Divisions 5, 2 and 1 take the floor on Friday. All five state championships will be held Saturday, beginning at 11:05 p.m.