Two Whitewater High School graduates are closer to making their hometown dreams come true. Whippet alumni Rebekah Schumacher and Kacie Carollo played big roles in UW-Whitewater’s 68-62 win over rival UW-Oshkosh as they helped their local college team advance to their fifth Final Four appearance in school history.
“It says a lot about our community,” UW-Whitewater head coach Keri Carollo said of the hometown girls making a big impact on the game. “I give a lot of credit to Coach (Judy) Harms on what she did to build that program as she took them (Whitewater High School) to state and won a state championship. I am fortunate that I live in the same community and that I am able to recruit in our own backyard.”
Schumacher and the coaches’ daughter Carollo both love the hometown support with Schumacher living it during the Whippets’ run to a state championship in 2015. Even though she missed out on a state title in high school, Carollo hopes that they can win a National Championship instead.
“It’s awesome,” the senior guard Schumacher said. “I am not sure I have had a year without a Whitewater person on my team, but it is fun and I like it. I just like seeing the community members and fans, and that is probably my favorite part.”
Early Game Struggle
Both teams struggled in the first quarter despite UW-Oshkosh getting out to a 7-2 lead. The Warhawks responded with baskets from Aleah Grundahl and Yssa Sto. Domingo to help grab a 8-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
“It says a lot about this group that they are resilient enough to focus on the next game and next play,” Coach Carollo said of struggling early and following up a dramatic win the night before. “They are not worried about what has happened. They are looking at what they can do in the future, and they never thought at any point they were going to lose the game.”
Nikki Arneson gave the Titans the advantage in the second quarter as she knocked down three shots from three-point territory to give UW-Oshkosh a 23-16 lead before taking a 28-22 lead to the locker room. Rebekah Schumacher helped UW-Whitewater get back in the game as she hit four of the team’s six three-pointers in the third quarter as the team trailed 50-47 going into the final quarter.
“Early on I tried to take smart shots. After I saw a few go in, I didn’t think about it,” Schumacher said of her performance from three-point range. “I wasn’t really thinking about my shot, I just shot it.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Schumacher knocked down her fifth three of the game to tie the game before Sto. Domingo knocked down another three to give the Warhawks a one-point lead at 57-56. After a basket from Grundahl to extend the lead to three, Jenna Jorgensen knocked down back-to-back three-pointers as the Titans regained a three-point lead at 62-59.
Carollo Seals the Deal with Seven
After a Johanna Taylor basket cut the Titans lead to one, freshman Kacie Carollo knocked down a three-pointer to give the Warhawks the lead for good. The freshman scored the last seven points of the game to help UW-Whitewater get the 68-62 win.
In the win, UW-Whitewater shot 39 percent from the field including 10 makes from three-point territory and shot 12-for-21 from the free-throw line in the game. UW-Oshkosh made 22 shots including 10 from three-point range and made all but two of their free throws in the loss.
Schumacher led the Warhawks with 22 points in the victory as the senior went 6-for-16 from the three point line in the game, while Grundahl had 14 and Carollo had 13 points and eight rebounds. Johanna Taylor was the leading rebounder for the Warhawks as she had a near double-double of nine points and nine rebounds.
Arneson led the way for the Titans with 21, while Jorgensen had 13 off the bench. Leah Porath scored 10 points for UW-Oshkosh as she became the fourth Titans player to eclipse 1,400 points as she ended her career with 1,405 career points.
A Family Affair
This year has been the first year of a family affair, as this Final Four appearance will be special for the Carollo family. Keri Carollo is in her 20th year as head coach, while her husband, Joe Carollo, serves as an assistant coach for the team and added their daughter Kacie as a freshman this season.
“For me, it is really emotional because I came to Whitewater after watching my mom go through all those years of getting so close and not accomplishing the ultimate goal,” the freshman Carollo said of getting to experience a Final Four with her parents as coaches. “When I came here, I told her that we are getting you one (a National Championship) before you are done. For me, it is really full circle and I am really excited to see what we can do.”
UW-Whitewater Will Head to Pittsburgh, PA
With the win, UW-Whitewater Women’s Basketball advances to their fifth Final Four appearance in school history and the fourth in Carollo’s tenure as head coach. The Warhawks will play Amherst on Thurs. Night in a National Semifinal game at 4 p.m. at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa.