Tigers’ comeback gets attention of Amery girlsThe comeback made by the New Richmond girls basketball team might not have put a scare into the Amery Warriors, but it sure got their attention.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The comeback made by the New Richmond girls basketball team might not have put a scare into the Amery Warriors, but it sure got their attention.
After trailing by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, the Tigers suddenly looked like the University of Connecticut women’s team. They outscored Amery 16-2 in the fourth quarter, cutting Amery’s final winning margin to 41-36.
The Tigers gave a quality defensive effort throughout Saturday’s game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Tigers found they could play at the same level on offense. When they did it was something to behold.
In the fourth quarter the Tigers didn’t look like a 1-8 team, especially facing Amery and its 9-1 record. Coach Jeff Kanewischer said the reason the Tigers were able to score so well in the fourth quarter is they stopped being afraid to throw lob passes into the post.
Whoever was on the court in the fourth quarter for the Tigers was given the chance to post up. By scoring off several of those passes, it forced Amery to sink its defense into the lane. This opened up outside shooting looks, and the Tigers began knocking those shots down better than they have all season.
Amery had built an early lead in the game by being incredibly patient in the offensive zone. Then, when the opportunity arose, they struck quickly. That usually meant getting the ball to Taylor Luke, the defending Most Valuable Player in the Middle Border Conference. Luke scored nine points in the first quarter as the Warriors built an 18-3 lead. By halftime the lead stood at 27-9.
Kanewischer tried several different matchups against Luke. The option that worked best was senior Hayley Peterson. She guarded Luke in the second half and shut her down, allowing Luke two points in the second half.
“Defensively, the girls did a great job as a team,” Kanewischer said. “They really showed their potential is during the second half.”
The 41 points is the fewest points scored by Amery in any of its nine wins this season.
Things bottomed out for the Tigers when they fell behind 36-13 midway through the third quarter. And that’s when the Tigers started the turnaround. A shot by Peterson from the high post and a three-pointer by McKenzie Kelly got the Tigers starting to believe they could get back into the game.
Balanced scoring helped the Tigers. Kelly led the team with nine points and Peterson scored eight points. Sophomore guard Laura Troftgruben scored seven points, all in the fourth quarter. Peterson led the team with nine rebounds.
The pattern of a slow start and a furious finish wasn’t new to the Tigers. They’d followed the same path in a 44-42 loss at Ellsworth last Tuesday.
Just as in Saturday’s game with Amery, the Tigers had a poor offensive start at Ellsworth. The Tigers could only muster two points in the first quarter and at halftime they trailed 24-12.
Coach Kanewischer said there was a significant difference from the Amery game. At Ellsworth the Tigers were getting the ball inside in the first half, but they missed a number of short-range shots.
In the second half the Tigers developed a nice mix of offense. Kendra Mitchell and Kim Bethke were able to score from close range and Peterson and Jordan Van Dyk heated up from the outside. They combined to sink three three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers were able to come back and tie the score at 40-40. Ellsworth then hit four free throws and held a 44-42 lead when the Tigers got a rebound with nine seconds left. The Tigers got the ball upcourt in hopes of getting a last-second shot away, but instead they turned the ball over in those final seconds.
Mitchell led the Tigers with 11 points in the loss. Peterson and Van Dyk each scored nine points and Bethke added eight points.
Second round of MBC
The Tigers start the second half of their conference schedule this Friday, with a home game against Osceola. Next Tuesday the Tigers head to Durand to face the undefeated Panthers.