WALWORTH, Wis. - In order to earn the first WIAA regional title in school history, the Big Foot girls had to overcome a potentially overwhelming obstacle: Shoreland Lutheran's Chelby Koker.
A generously-listed 5-foot-5 junior powerhouse at the point guard position, Koker entered Saturday's Division 3 regional final game at Big Foot averaging 30.4 points per game.
Enter the defensive prowess of Big Foot's own diminutive dynamo, senior Zanzie Demco.
The Chiefs, led by Demco, held Koker to five second-half points as they closed out a 72-66 victory the Warriors with some clutch free throw shooting.
Big Foot advances to Thursday's sectional semifinal in Burlington, where they will face Lakeside Lutheran.
Koker scored 22 first-half points, but the Chiefs battled to a 38-31 halftime lead.
The Chiefs never relinquished the lead in the second half, thanks in large measure to the job Demco did.
"Tonight was really all about Zanzie," Big Foot coach Rick Schoenbeck said. "She deserves all the credit she gets. When I had a sub in there for Zanzie, you could tell a difference. Zanzie studied a lot of video of her, and her job was to push her to a side. We defended her in layers, and once she got to a side, the next layer is there to help. We did a really nice job on that especially in the second half."
Koker, who has a scholarship offer from Illinois State, finally broke through her first points of the second half in the game's waning moments. Her 3-pointer cut the Big Foot lead to 65-62 with 52 seconds left.
Courtney Schoenbeck, who led the Chiefs with 25 points and Reagan Courier, who scored 19, hit the necessary clutch free throws down the stretch to give the Chiefs a historic victory.
Demco said she knew she was in for a huge challenge.
"I was nervous at first, but everyone said they had a lot of confidence in me," Demco said. "I was ready to go, and I was pumped for it. I knew she was going to hit shots. She's a really good player. But I had a lot of confidence, and somewhat shut her down. We just played her with more intensity in the second half."
Coach Schoenbeck was pleased with th way his offense executed.
"Early on, our game plan was to pass it at least five times before shooting it," Schoenbeck said. "They were going to give us the outside shot all night. But we wanted to get great shots, and we switched it up a lot. We ran a lot of pick and roll ,but we kept them off balanced."
Payton Courier was the third Chief in double figures, finishing with 13 points. Demco and Sophia Foster each added eight points.
"This feels amazing," Payton Courier said. "This is what we've all been working for. It all came together. We played as a team. We just kept moving the ball and we didn't force anything. When people were open, we got them the ball."
Courtney Schoenbeck said the team wasn't satisfied to celebrate their regional crown and ride off into the sunset
"We won state in our eighth grade year," Schoenbeck said. "Four years later, we've got to do this again, we've got to at least get there again. It feels great."