- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Cuba City’s 10th state championship was 12 months in the making.

After losing to Algoma in last year’s WIAA Division 4 semifinal game, Cuba City turned the tables with a 49-28 victory over the Wolves on Saturday to take the division title.

Mollie Wedige recorded game highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Cubans (27-1) and Jessi Marti added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.

“Certainly, these guys had motivation to get back and worked hard for an entire year,” Cuba City coach Jeff Pustina said. “I thought our defense was outstanding. I thought our kids were quick, I thought they were fast and I thought we were physical. I thought that was the difference last year - the physicality. I thought Algoma beat us up a little bit last year. This year, we came back - we certainly did our work in the weight room. More than that, they showed a lot of heart and desire.”

After being limited to six points and six rebounds in last year’s matchup, Wedige was almost unstoppable, especially during a decisive 14-1 run spanning the second and third quarters. Cuba City scored seven of the last eight points of the first half to take a 20-16 halftime lead, then scored the first seven points of the second half. Wedige scored five layups during that stretch, including three off of offensive rebounds.

“It played a big part” in the outcome, Wedige said of an offseason in the weight room. “Last year, they pushed us around. This year, we came back and we were going to be right there with them.”

Added Algoma coach Mark Zastrow: “She was dominant inside.”

Cuba City limited Algoma to 27.8 percent shooting, including 2-of-17 from 3-point range. The Wolves entered the state tournament with 46.9 percent accuracy, including 35.2 percent from 3-point range.

“We could not find the basket,” Zastrow said. “I thought we got some good looks but I thought Cuba City did a nice job of making every shot challenging.”

Kennedy Blahnik scored 11 points for the Wolves (25-3), who also were the runners-up in 2011. Eight of those were in the first 10 minutes of the game but she was whistled for a second foul shortly thereafter. She didn’t score again until there was 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

“I think it was the pressure they gave us,” Blahnik said when asked about the team’s shooting. “We had open looks and the window would just close so fast.”

Late in the third quarter, Chloe Pustina drove and fed Wedige for a layup, then stole the ball, got fouled and made both free throws to extend the lead to 33-20 with 3.7 seconds remaining.

A 3-pointer by Baleigh Delorit and two free throws by Anna Dier brought Algoma within 35-26, but two free throws and a fast-break layup by Marti, a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Kaitlyn Kaiser and two more free throws by Marti gave Cuba City a 17-point lead and put the game away.

It was the Cubans’ state-record 10th championship, their first since 2010 and fifth in 10 years. Eight of those have come under Pustina.

“You know what? This is not about me,” he said. “This is about these kids and the special drive, determination and goal that they had.”