Merrill Varsity Girls capture big win on Senior Night

Sophie Wendorf attempts a free throw. Rick Argall photo.


The Merrill Varsity Girls closed out their regular season at home versus conference foe D.C. Everest on a much-celebrated Senior night at the Merrill High School (MHS) Fieldhouse last Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Seniors Maddy Ott (7 pts, 2 FG, 1 3pt), Mia Ott (10 pts, 3 FG, 4 FT), and Sophie Wendorf (5 pts, 1 FG, 1 3pt) led the way for the Lady Jays in a back-and-forth game that saw multiple lead changes throughout.
Everest jumped out to an early 9-3 lead before Sophie Wendorf hit a big three-pointer and Freshman Grace Reimann (12 pts, 5 FG, 2 FT) added a field goal to pull the Lady Jays to within 9-8 at the 12:20 mark of the first half. Two consecutive baskets by Junior Ava Detert (15 pts, 5 FG, 5 FT) gave Merrill the lead 12-11 midway through the first half. After falling behind again, Junior Haley Rindt (2 pts, 1 FG) scored to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:20 remaining in the half. After a 4-0 run by the Evergreens, Coach Michael Debuhr used a timeout to regroup and change up some strategy trailing 18-14.
Maddy Ott hit a big three-pointer and Grace Reimann scored after a steal to put Merrill back up 23-21 late in the first half. D.C. Everest closed out the half strong and took a 29-26 lead to the locker room as the half came to an end.
A quick start to the second half bolted D.C. Everest to their largest lead of the night at 8 points, 34-26 at the 16:30 mark of the second half. The Lady Jays rallied behind solid defense and forced several turnovers and went on an amazing 13-0 run to take the lead at 39-34, forcing Everest to take a timeout with 11:28 remaining in the game. Baskets by each team down the stretch kept the game close, but solid defense and two key free throws by Sophie Wendorf surged Merrill to a commanding 50-43 lead, their largest lead of the night. Mia Ott added one more free throw and the Lady Jays dribbled out the clock as the final buzzer sounded with a 51-45 win for Merrill.
Merrill was led in scoring by Ava Detert (15 pts), Grace Reimann (12 pts), Mia Ott (10 pts), and Maddy Ott (7 pts). The Lady Jays closed out their regular season with a 14-11 overall record and 5-7 in conference play. The 2024 WIAA Girls Basketball Tournament begins Tuesday, Feb. 20, with #7 seed Merrill hosting the #10 seed Ashland in the first round of the Sectionals.

Box Score
D.C. Everest 45 @ Merrill 51

At the conclusion of the game, MHS and fans honored and paid tribute to the three departing Seniors for their dedication and contributions to the program. Featured guest speakers and an emotional speech by Coach Michael Debuhr wishing the group success in their future endeavors was a fitting send-off for Maddy, Mia, and Sophie. Each received gift baskets and had video tributes for all to watch.

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