CARNEY - A slow start didn't derail Tiffany Wangerin and the Stephenson girls' basketball team against Carney-Nadeau in their Class D District semifinal game on Wednesday.
After trailing 23-22 with four minutes left in the first half, the Eagles shooters lit up the Carney gym to blow out the Wolves 80-38.
"It took us a little while to settle in," Wangerin said. "Once we started making shots and causing turnovers on defense, everything else clicked."
Billy Betts | Menominee EagleHerald
Janel Dani of Carney-Nadeau is surrounded Stephenson’s Lexi Johnson (left), Karley Johnson (back) and Tiffany Wangerin during their Class D district tournament game Wednesday in Carney.
Carney-Nadeau stayed with Stephenson throughout the first half and held a one point lead after a Morgan DuPont 3-pointer at the four-minute mark in the second quarter.
A Kelsey Johnson jumper followed by five straight points from Wangerin put the Eagles up 29-23 two minutes later.
DuPont sank another jumper to cut the deficit to five.
Stephenson 16 19 25 20 - 80
Carney-Nadeau 13 12 6 7 - 38
STEPHENSON (80) - Tiffany Wangerin 25, Tori Wangerin 8, L. Johnson 19, Kelsey Johnson 20, Karlina Johnson 6, A. Starzynski 2, R. Starzynski 0, Rice 0; FTs: 18-27
CARNEY-NADEAU (38) - J. Dani 17, Tancredi 2, DuPont 11, A. Dani 7, Lampinen 1, Eichhorn 0; FTs: 15-19
Tori Wangerin, who was a game-time decision with a bum ankle, sank a layup and after two free throws by Kelsey Johnson, Wangerin collected an offensive board and a made an inside basket to give Stephenson a 35-25 halftime lead.
"Coach was really on us about making better decisions and needing to step up," Tiffany Wangerin said. "That four-minute stretch after we were trailing really changed the game."
Stephenson came out like gangbusters in the third quarter.
With the score 39-29 , Tori and Tiffany Wangerin scored six straight points to extend the lead to 16.
A three-point play by Johnson with 4:40 left in the third quarter put Stephenson up 48-29.
The Eagles scored six more points on a Lexi Johnson layup and four points from Tiffany Wangerin to cap off a 17-0 run.
Defense was key throughout that stretch as the Eagles switched zone defenses and wreaked havoc on the Wolves guard play.
"I thought our zone defense was the difference tonight," Stephenson coach Mark Simon said. "With Lexi Johnson at the top and all of our speed and length, it was hard for Carney to do much of anything."
The Wolves offense played well throughout the first quarter and into the second.
Andrea and Janel Dani drove to the lane and knocked down several jumpshots to keep the Wolves in the game.
"I knew we could stay with them in the first half," Wolves' coach Duane Bingham said. "Once Stephenson started wearing us out and making jumpshots, everything just snowballed."
Tiffany Wangerin poured in a game-high 25 points to lead the Eagles (19-2). Kelsey Johnson had 20 and Lexi Johnson added 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles hauled in 48 rebounds to go along with eight steals and several forced turnovers.
"This win felt really good because we played some of our best basketball in the second half," Lexi Johnson said. "Our defense was tough and we rebounded really well."
The Wolves were led by Janel Dani with 17 points. DuPont chipped in with 11.
Stephenson plays host to North Dickinson Friday night at 6 p.m. The Nordics beat the upstart Mid Peninsula Wolverines 45-41 Wednesday evening.
"Our crowd is very effective for us and I'm really happy to be playing at home," Simon said. "We utilized our speed very well and mixed it up defensively tonight and we'll have to do that again in order to win on Friday."