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Cheesemakers knock out Stoughton
SUN PRAIRIE - Sophomore Emily Benzschawel scored a team-high 23 points to lead a balanced attack and the Monroe High School girls basketball team upended Stoughton 73-65 in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal Thursday at Sun Prairie High School.

Monroe (20-3), ranked eighth in the Associated Press Division 2 state poll, knocked off the thirrd-ranked Vikings (21-4) for the second time in three games this season.

Sophomore Sydney Hilliard added 18 points, junior Sydney Mathiason had 15 points, and senior Jordan Hirsbrunner pitched in 10 points.

Second-seeded Monroe advances on to play fifth-seeded Milton in a sectional championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Middleton High School. Milton (15-10) upset second-seeded Wilmot 62-57 in the other sectional semifinal in the Middleton sectional.

Monroe defeated Milton twice this season - 66-41 Jan. 5 at Milton and 60-41 Jan. 28 at Monroe.

Saturday's winner advances to the state tournament, which is March 9-11 in Green Bay. The last time the Cheesemakers advanced to state was 2010.

"We will enjoy this win tonight, but we will have to come back and get ready for Milton," Mathiason said. "I'm just proud we had this opportunity. I just want to make sure we take advantage of this opportunity."

The Cheesemakers raced out to a 21-9 lead over top-seeded Stoughton. The Cheesemakers got 3-pointers in the first half from Benzschawel, junior Rachel Meier and Sydney Mathiason. Monroe built a 33-20 lead at the half and extended its lead to 17 points midway through the second half.

"We shot the ball really well," Mathiason said. "We did a really good job of playing team basketball, and we were able to make some shots. I was really proud of our defense. I thought our defense was outstanding to be able to hold them to 20 points in the first half. As well as we played on offense, I thought our defense was probably better."

The Vikings cut the Cheesemakers' lead to seven points with 6 minutes, 42 seconds to go. The Cheesemakers made 14 of 16 free throws down the stretch in the second half to seal the victory.

"They cut the lead to six points, but we were able to make our free throws," Mathiason said.

There are three teams from the Badger South Conference that will play in sectional final games Saturday. In addition to Monroe taking on Milton, Madison Edgewood (21-3) will play Platteville in a sectional title game Saturday. Edgewood beat top-ranked Whitewater (23-1) to get to the sectional final.

"I think it says a lot about the depth of the Badger South Conference," Mathiason said. "We knew all along that we were in a really strong conference with a lot of depth.

"Milton is playing really good right now. They knocked off a No. 1 and No. 2 seed."