For the first time in over two decades, the Three Lakes girls basketball team are Regional champions after walking their way through the Division 5 Regional bracket and clinching the title Saturday night with a 68-38 win over Niagara at home.

The win came just a day after Three Lakes downed Northern Lakes Conference foe Florence 76-33 in the Regional semifinal at Three Lakes.

The Regional final victory Saturday marked the 17th win overall for coach George Lurvey’s squad. With the possibility for No. 18 and 19 in the balance, completing both would mean the first State berth for the girls program since 1999.

“After all of this hard work over the years with these girls, it is so rewarding to watch them hoist that Regional trophy and cut down the nets, something that the girls program hasn’t done since 1999,” Lurvey said. “I am so proud of this group, and what we have accomplished. But we have had a goal of reaching the State tournament this year, so our work isn’t done yet.”

Following the completion of the Regional, coaches gathered Sunday for a virtual meeting to discuss Sectional seeding. Three Lakes didn’t have to put up much of an argument to secure the top-seed in their four-team Sectional ahead of No. 2 Suring (18-6), third-seeded Athens (10-9) and fourth seeded Gresham (11-8).

It’s a fairly clear path for the top-seeded Lady Bluejays, who’ll play at home through the entire Sectional due to COVID-19 protocols guided by the WIAA. Of the four teams in the Sectional, Three Lakes (17-5) has seen two of them this season, defeating Gresham at home Jan. 9 by a score of 68-28 and also taking down Suring on the road Dec. 7 by a score of 70-36.

The semifinals will be played Thursday night with Three Lakes hosting Gresham at 7 p.m. Suring will host Athens in the other Sectional semi, with the winners meeting at the site of the higher seed Saturday in a likely 7 p.m. match-up.

Any tickets available for the general public will go on sale Wednesday at noon, and can be purchased only by calling the school at (715) 546-3321.

Two big wins

Opening the tourney at home in the Regional semifinals, Three Lakes easily handled conference foe Florence, opening a 45-11 halftime lead to win 76-33.

“We opened up our Regional playing some of the best basketball we have played all year,” Lurvey said. “The goal for this year has been to have a well-rounded team in every aspect of the game - from scoring to rebounding to defense. And I believe we are at that point.”

Lurvey said Florence started the game aimed at stopping top-scorer Sydney Lurvey.

“In the past that would be effective against us, but now that we have balanced scoring, especially from our post players, we were easily able to make them come out of their defense and play our style of basketball,” Lurvey said. “Our post players have really stepped up over the last couple games. They are scoring and rebounding the best they have all season.”

Both Emily Fink and Mari Szews have posted double-digit rebound totals in the last two games, with Fink able to combine it with effective scoring underneath to earn a double-double in points and rebounds each night.

“Mollee Gruszynski and Sara Gruszynski have also been playing fantastic, and are also threats in the post position,” Lurvey said. “We have a huge advantage on most teams who struggle to have one post player. We are fortunate to have four very solid ones.”

Sydney Lurvey led Three Lakes in scoring in the win over Florence, posting 15 points to go with four rebounds. Fink added 13 points and 10 rebounds, followed by 10 points each from Sara Gruszynski and Kara Sowinski. Sowinski also added seven assists and six steals. Taylor Kolling contributed 10 points.

Following the win over Florence, Three Lakes clinched the Regional title with the 68-38 win over Niagara at home.

Lurvey again led the way with 17 points to go with six rebounds and two assists. Fink had 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Szews had a big night on the boards with 13 to go with eight points and two steals.

Mollee Gruszynski added 11 points and nine rebounds. Sowinski contributed eight points, five boards, five assists and three steals.