When the season began, Onalaska had a new head coach, and a new sense of confidence about finally making it to the state tournament.
On Saturday, they gained a sense of what winning a sectional title feels like.
Onalaska beat Hortonville 59-52 in a division 2 sectional final to advance to next week's WIAA state championships in Green Bay. The Hilltoppers (21-5) will face Stoughton (24-2) in the semifinals on Friday afternoon at the Resch Center.
"It just feels amazing," senior Josie Thomas said afterward. "This whole season, state is what we've been working for, and we finally reached it. Being a senior, it is just incredible. It's the greatest feeling ever."
"This is all I've ever dreamed of. It hasn't hit me yet, but this is crazy and it's a great feeling," junior Tayla Stuttley added.
Onalaska finished the first half strong to lead 24-23. Stuttley and Emma Gamoke provided more offense to start the second half, and the Hilltoppers eventually led 41-34 with 10:49 to play.
The Polar Bears closed the gap to just one point with 1:51 left, but Stuttley was able to close the game out with a few free throws. She led the team with 25 points. Gamoke added 11 points in the second half.
You can watch the girls basketball tournament on WXOW. Coverage begins Thursday afternoon.