Spartan girls basketball team avenges conference loss to Ellsworth
Somerset's girls basketball team was able to get even with Ellsworth last Thursday.
Ellsworth had inflicted Somerset's only Middle Border Conference loss of the season. The Spartans made sure it didn't happen a second time, beating the Panthers 55-47.
The win is the ninth straight for the Spartans, raising their record to 13-3. They've won their past seven MBC games.
Ellsworth was the only team to beat Somerset in the first half of the MBC schedule, so the Spartans were fully aware of Ellsworth's ability. Ellsworth is a gifted athletic team and the Panthers are one of the few teams with the athletes to run the court as well as the Spartans do.
The Spartans took the lead for good with an 8-0 run in the first quarter that was led by five points from senior guard Karli Solum.
Ellsworth made several runs at the Spartans, but could never get the lead back. A big reason was where the points were coming from.
The Spartans had a nice mix on offense. Leading scorer Ashley Martell finished with 16 points. Paige Wagner scored 11 points and Solum and Ellie Vanasse each scored eight points.
Ellsworth's points came mainly from the perimeter. That led to a huge difference at the free throw line. With the Panthers settling for outside shots, they shot only four free throws in the game. With Somerset's attack offense, the Spartans drew 19 free throws.
Somerset's interior defense was strong, especially when Vanasse was on the court. The junior center dominated the rebounding, but when she was off the court the Panthers were able to score off several offensive rebounds.
Ellsworth made its last charge at the Spartans early in the fourth quarter, cutting the Spartan lead to 43-42. Livers then took a timeout, with a purpose. The Spartans went to full-court pressure for the first time in the game. It created an immediate Ellsworth turnover. The Spartans cashed in, with Martell driving into the lane and dishing off to Vanasse for the layup.
The Spartans have had a spirited rivalry with Boyceville in girls basketball, dating back to the days when Somerset was part of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. That rivalry has been kept alive with a non-conference game involving the two teams every season.
The Spartans were able to take command early when the two teams met in Somerset last Tuesday. The lead stayed in the 8-12 point range for most of the night as the Spartans finished with a 49-39 victory.
Solum led the Spartans to a strong start in the game. She scored seven of the team's 14 points in the first quarter as the Spartans built a 14-6 lead.
The Spartans will try to extend their lead in the MBC on Thursday when they play at home against Amery.
The Spartans open next week with games on consecutive nights. They play at home on Monday against Barron in a non-conference game. They will travel to Baldwin on Tuesday to face a rapidly improving Blackhawk team.