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'Phenomenal' Ziebell scores 40 as Neenah advances to state championship

Championship Saturday, here they come! All-American guard Allie Ziebell put up 40 points and 19 rebounds in the Rockets 77-70 semifinal win over Hartford.
Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-09 00:06:52-05

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (NBC 26) — One of the Wisconsin's biggest prep basketball stars took the state's biggest stage, and she did not disappoint.

Neenah star Allie Ziebell scored 40 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as Neenah held off Hartford Union for a 77-70 win in Friday's WIAA Division 1 state semifinal.

The Rockets will move on to face Arrowhead in the state championship on Saturday night.

  • Ziebell shot 11-24 from the floor and 2-6 from 3-point range. She did most of her damage from the free throw line, hitting 16-20 from the stripe.
  • Abbie Fischer chipped in 13 points off the bench; sophomore guard Rowan Klesmit added 11 for the Rockets.
  • Neenah will face top-seeded Arrowhead in the Division 1 state championship Saturday at approximately 8:15 p.m.
  • The Rockets played the Warhawks earlier this season, losing a close one 69-68.
  • Neenah is in search of its first state title since 1978.

Neenah guard Allie Ziebell - a FIBA gold medalist, McDonald's All-American, and the state's newly-crowned Ms. Basketball honoree - had tremendous expectations on her as she led the Rockets into their first state tournament in 15 years.

She lived up to the hype, and then some.

Ziebell had 40 points, 19 rebounds and added five assists as the Rockets held off Hartford in a competitive, back-and-forth affair to advance to Saturday's state championship.

"It's great," Ziebell said of her performance. "Honestly just all credit to my teammates. They screen. They pass. They do everything. They get the offensive rebounds, they do the dirty work, honestly."

The bright lights are nothing new to Ziebell, who has had a decorated AAU career and last summer won a gold medal with Team USA's U-19 team at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

"I use the big stages I've been on as a way to control our tempo," she said. "(I) just try to keep us calm, collected and stay as a team and not worry about the crowd."

"Her basketball IQ is off the charts," Neenah coach Andy Braunel said, lauding Ziebell's leadership "Phenomenal player and person but also just a great basketball mind who just makes all of us better."

Up next Neenah gets another shot at Arrowhead, a team that beat them by one point earlier this season.

"It was a battle, back-and-forth," Braunel said of the first meeting. "I would expect the same thing again."

The Warhawks have only one player who averages double figures: Natalie Kussow, a sophomore guard with offers from several Big Ten and ACC schools, averages 23.3 points per game and scored 33 in Arrowhead's state semifinal win over Franklin.

After that, they feature a balanced scoring attack that Braunel said makes it tough to "key in on" one particular player.

"It's going to be a complete team defensive effort for us and then a quick regroup to get our legs back so we can get our offense clicking," Braunel said.

Saturday's game tips off at approximately 8:15 p.m. at the Resch Center.