Tiger girls use defense to become a factor in MBC basketball race
The biggest upset of the Middle Border Conference season thus far was pulled off by the New Richmond girls basketball team.
The Tiger girls used a ferocious defensive effort to stun Prescott last Thursday, 43-35.
Prescott had brought an 8-2 overall record into the game, while the Tigers were 2-4 at that point. The win, combined with the Tigers' win over Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday, raised the Tigers to 2-1 in the conference standings.
From the first seconds of the game the Tigers' intent was clear. With their speed at guard, the Tigers were going to be as physical and forceful as possible with Prescott's guards.
The plan worked marvelously in the first half, with one exception. The Tigers and Prescott were tied at 20-20 at halftime and the Tigers had Prescott's guards thoroughly uncomfortable.
The one problem for the Tigers in the first half was fouls. The Tigers were rather obvious in some of their fouls and several of the guards were in foul trouble by halftime.
In the second half the Tigers didn't change their defensive intensity, they just cleaned up the execution. The guards showed excellent judgement and eliminated the unnecessary fouls.
It wasn't just the guards who made a difference on defense. Senior post player Meghan Frank had a huge second half. Prescott was trying to throw passes from the top of the key to the low post. Frank read this strategy like her favorite book. Four times she intercepted passes headed to the low post. She also came up with several key rebounds in the second half.
Much of first three quarters saw the Tigers build leads, then Prescott rally to catch them. In second and third quarters the Tigers built six-point leads, only to see Prescott catch them each time.
When the Tigers built their lead in the fourth quarter, they made sure Prescott didn't come back. Prescott standout guard Alyssa Krings scored 16 points, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. She then fouled out with 42 seconds left in the game.
Senior guard Laura Troftgruben was the offensive power for the Tigers. She scored 17 points, including six free throws in the fourth quarter.
Kat Keller got into early foul trouble, but was able to stay out of trouble in the second half. Keller is one of the best defensive players in the conference, but her zeal for defense often leads to fouls and long periods on the bench. Along with her defense, she scored nine points in the win.
Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer said this is the type of defensive performance he has come to expect from the talent on his roster. He said the girls are excited about sharing the conference lead, but they know there's more.
"Being tied (for the lead) isn't our ultimate goal. We still have a whole season to play," he said
Thursday's win came two nights after the Tigers had earned their first MBC win of the season, a 43-25 decision over Baldwin-Woodville.
The Tigers led 8-7 after a quarter, then cut loose in the second quarter, building up a 25-13 halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter the lead stood at 33-17. The starters got to play the opening minute of the fourth quarter, before the game was turned over to the reserves.
Keller and Amy Kukacka shared the team scoring lead with 10 points apiece. Troftgruben added seven points.
On Saturday the Tigers hosted their third home game of the week, facing Hudson in a non-conference game. The Tigers fell behind early and could never get rolling, losing to the Raiders 55-38.
Hudson was able to establish center Alexa Belanger early in the game. She scored 18 points, 16 of them coming in the first half. By halftime Hudson had built a 38-24 advantage.
Troftgruben led the Tigers with 11 points on Saturday and Kukacka scored 10 points.
The Tigers face two more challenging MBC games in the upcoming days. The Tigers will be in action on Friday at Ellsworth. That's followed by a home game next Tuesday, where Amery is the opposition.