Spartans win third in five games
While the Somerset girls basketball team continues to make rapid progress, the Spartans will be making their progress next season under a new coach.
The Spartans went to Prescott on Friday, scoring a 49-28 win over the Cardinals. This is the Spartans’ third win in five games, with the two losses in that stretch coming against state-ranked Baldwin-Woodville and Hayward.
Before the team left for Prescott, Somerset coach Kendrick Livers was called into a meeting with Athletic Director Bill Roll and High School Principal Chris Moore. Livers was given two options, to resign immediately or at the end of the season. Livers elected to continue coaching the team for the rest of the season.
“It sucks,” Livers said of the administration’s decision. “I love this group of girls. As long as the girls are successful, that’s what I want to see.”
Roll said he couldn’t comment on the termination because it is a personnel matter. He said the job would be posted after the season concludes and he will be looking for someone with high school coaching experience to be the next coach.
“He’s always been well intentioned and we appreciate what he’s done for us,” Roll said of Livers.
Since starting the season 1-7, the Spartans have been a .500 team. Livers said the early struggles were expected, because the team consists wholly of sophomores and freshmen. Livers said the physical play and emphasis on defense is something the girls needed time to adjust to.
“You can’t just leave travelling basketball and jump to the Middle Border (Conference) and think you’ll be doing as well. The Middle Border is physical. The girls now are doing a great job of playing through it,” Livers said.
Friday’s win at Prescott is a perfect example of how the Spartans have adjusted to the physicality of varsity play. When these teams met the first time this season on Dec. 20, Somerset led by nine points at halftime. Prescott turned up the physical style of the game in the second half and the Spartans weren’t able to adjust in the 42-35 loss.
On Friday, the Spartans again led by nine points at halftime. When Prescott turned up the pressure, the Spartans were ready and they were able to pull away for the 21-point win.
Freshman guard Tori Martell led a balanced Somerset scoring attack with 17 points. Haley Bassett continues upping her contribution, scoring 11 points. Avery Gunter scored seven points, Abbie Rivard six points, Baily Paulus five points and Kaitlyn Struemke three points.
Livers said one of the big differences in the second meeting with Prescott was the Spartans’ post defense. Prescott post player Olivia Rohl did major damage in the first game with 13 points and 12 rebounds. This time, the post defense of Struemke, Gunther and Paulus prevented Rohl from having a major impact.
“We had two girls boxing out (Rohl) at all times,” Livers said.
The Spartans are now 4-7 in the MBC and a strong finish could help them climb to fifth place in the final conference standings. The Spartans are in action on Thursday, playing at MBC co-leader New Richmond. The Spartans will end the regular season with three straight home games, starting with Monday’s clash with winless Ellsworth.