Spartans one win away from title
The Somerset girls basketball team is one win away from its first Middle Border Conference championship.
If the Spartans win at Baldwin-Woodville this Friday, they will at least have a share of the MBC championship. This comes after the Spartans put together two impressive efforts to win a pair of conference games last week.
On Friday the Spartans avenged one of their two MBC losses when they used a smothering defensive effort to beat Amery 50-40. Last Tuesday the Spartans beat Osceola 51-33. The first time the Spartans faced Osceola, they were winners by one point.
Amery had beaten Somerset 61-49 in the first meeting between the two teams. This time the Spartans had a much better defensive plan to deal with Amery, particularly MBC leading scorer Taylor Luke. Luke scored 29 points in the first meeting between the two teams. This time, she was limited to 10 points.
"We came to the conclusion that to beat Amery, you have to hold her down," said Somerset coach Bill Powers.
The Spartans used a mix of defenses that frustrated Amery. At times they used a box-and-one against Luke, or a diamond-and-two against Luke and Kelly Stewart. They often used a 1-3-1 zone that was based well away from the basket. By doing this, the Spartans were able to cut off Luke's path well away from the basket whenever she tried to drive.
In the first quarter the Spartans jumped out to a 13-7 lead, with senior center Kayla Solum scoring seven points in the quarter. The only time the Spartans struggled all week was in the second quarter against Amery. The Spartans got frustrated by Amery's zone defense and turned the ball over seven times in the quarter. That allowed Amery to cut the margin to 18-17 at halftime.
Amery kept the pressure on to start the third quarter, taking a 26-23 lead. The Spartans then slowed down their offense and good things started happening. The team went on an 11-0 run to move ahead 37-26. The run extended into the fourth quarter, with the Spartans leading 45-29. The lead stayed in the 16-17 point range until the Spartan reserves went in for the final minute of the game.
Point guard Kellie Ring led the Spartans with 17 points and Solum finished with 14 points. Ali Marson led the team with seven rebounds and Solum took down six rebounds. Marson and Ring led the team in assists with four each and Marson and Ashley Martell each had three steals to lead the team.
Martell has quietly become an effective mid-range shooter for the Spartans. In the two games last week, she was 8-10 shooting.
"She's probably the most consistent player we've had all season," Powers said. "She's real heady with the ball and doesn't make a lot of mistakes."
When the Spartans are patient in the offensive end of the court, they've proven to be nearly unstoppable. They made 58 percent of their shots from two-point range against Amery and 57 percent against Osceola.
Against Osceola, the Spartans took away the Chieftains' outside shooting and left them with no offensive options. The Spartans held Osceola to 20 points in the first three quarters of Tuesday's game.
"That was probably the best three quarters we played, offensively and defensively, all season," Powers said.
The Spartans led 30-11 at halftime, then looked to establish Solum in the low post in the third quarter. She scored 10 of the team's 14 points in the quarter as the Somerset lead increased to 44-20.
Solum finished the game with 23 points. Marson's six rebounds led the team. Ring scored 12 points and led the team with five assists and four steals.
The Somerset girls basketball team earned the first seed in the WIAA Division 2 regional seeding bracket, which was decided over the weekend. The Spartans will open the tournament schedule at home next Tuesday against Spooner, which received the eighth seed in the bracket. Somerset beat Spooner 60-25 when they met in the opening game of the season.
If the Spartans win Tuesday's game, they will be in action again two nights later, in the second round of regionals. Their opponent will be the winner of the game between Amery and New Richmond.
The Spartans raised their season record to 17-2 on Monday with a 49-39 non-conference win at Boyceville.
Ring scored 20 points and Solum 17 points as the Spartans held a double-digit lead for much of the game. The difference in the game was the second quarter, where the Spartans outscored the Bulldogs 14-4.
Somerset 50, Amery 40
Nelson 2 1-1 5, Luke 4 2-2 10, Stewart 3 4-7 11, Hansen 0 3-4 3, Schultz 0 2-2 2, Satterlund 1 1-2 3, Schiell 2 0-0 6. Totals 12 13-18 40.
Potting 0 0-0 0, Baillargeon 0 0-0 0, Karli Solum 0 0-0 0, Marson 1 0-0 2, Ring 7 3-6 17, Wells 0 0-0 0, Steinlicht 1 0-0 2, Krohn 3 0-0 7, Martell 4 0-0 8, Kayla Solum 5 4-5 14, Rorabeck 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 7-11 50.
Amery 7 10 10 13 40
Somerset 13 5 17 15 50
Three-point goals -- Stewart, Schiell 2, Krohn. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- Amery 14, Somerset 18.
Somerset 51, Osceola 33
Tarman 0 1-2 1, Hogen 0 0-0 0, J.Martell 0 5-6 5, Tinney 4 0-2 10, Danielson 1 0-0 3, Garriga 0 0-0 0, Jasperson 1 0-0 2, Byl 5 2-3 12. Totals 11 8-13 33.
Potting 0 0-0 0, Baillargeon 1 0-2 2, Karli Solum 0 0-0 0, Marson 2 2-2 6, Ring 5 1-2 12, Wells 0 0-0 0, Steinlicht 0 0-2 0, Krohn 0 0-0 0, A.Martell 4 0-0 8, Kayla Solum 9 5-8 23. Totals 21 8-16 51.
Osceola 5 6 9 13 33
Somerset 15 15 14 7 51
Three-point goals -- Tinney 2, Danielson, Ring. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- Osceola 19, Somerset 15.