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Back to state! Neenah takes down Hortonville to punch ticket to the Resch

Neenah girls basketball is heading to state for the first time since 2009! The Rockets got the Polar Bear off their backs, beating Hortonville 82-72 in Saturday's sectional final rematch.
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-02 19:01:55-05

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — For the first time since 2009, the Neenah girls basketball team is headed to the WIAA state tournament.

The Rockets beat conference rival Hortonville 82-72 in Saturday's sectional final, punching their ticket to next week's tournament at the Resch Center. McDonald's All-American Allie Ziebell scored 31 points to lead the way.

The win snaps Neenah's three-game losing streak against the Polar Bears, dating back to last year's sectional final game.

"When you're told somebody has your number and they post that on social media and they say that in interviews, that fires you up," Neenah coach Andy Braunel said after the game. "That (motivation) was a big factor to this."

"It's the sixth time we got to the (sectional final) and never busted through," Braunel added. "I'm just so proud of the program. So proud of all the kids."

It's Neenah's first eighth state tournament appearance and first in 15 years. The program previously won a state championship in 1978.

Ziebell, Wisconsin's reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, will now get a chance to play on a state-wide stage after the Rockets fell one game short of the state tournament in each of the past two seasons.

"It's indescribable because we haven't had this feeling yet," Ziebell said. "We fell short every year. Especially last year with a group of seniors we were so close with. We felt we owed it to them."

The Rockets will play their state semifinal game Friday night at the Resch Center. The time and opponent will be determined when the seeding is released on Sunday.