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Spartans find their confidence, while the Tigers' evaporates

Two young teams with frail confidence levels met when the New Richmond girls basketball team traveled to Somerset last Tuesday.

Both teams had lost two straight games and were in desperate need of some good news. Somerset got its good news, while the New Richmond girls saw their performance drop far below what they'd shown in their first two games of the season.

Somerset won last Tuesday's game by a 64-20 score. The game was competitive through the first quarter. Somerset led 11-5 after a quarter, but New Richmond may have had more close-range shots in the opening quarter. The Tigers simply couldn't hit a shot in the opening quarter and that continued throughout the game.

Somerset had two factors that turned the game in its favor. In the second quarter the Spartans began to hit their outside shots. Led by sophomore Ashley Martell, the Spartans drained four three-point shots in the second quarter.

In the second quarter Somerset was able to make its full-court pressure more effective. In the first quarter the Tigers were able to get the ball into the middle of the court against Somerset's press. In the second quarter the Tigers tried working the ball up along the edges of the court, where the Spartans were able to trap them and force numerous turnovers.

"We showed we were young," said Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer. "We were making the mistakes they wanted us to make."

Somerset's transition game is one of its main assets and in the second quarter it began to flourish. Spartan point guard Kellie Ring is one of the best transition players in the conference. As the Spartans began getting turnovers, she led the fast-break opportunities.

The Spartan bench also played a key role in this win. Seniors Shelby Baillargeon and Kelsey Rorabeck came off the bench to hit three-pointers in the second quarter. Senior Megan Flandrick went 6-6 from the free throw line.

Freshman Ellie Vanasse was recently moved to the varsity on a full-time basis for the Spartans and she was a key contributor to the win. Vanasse scored eight points, giving the Spartans strong play in the low post. She also used her wide arm-span to be effective at the front of the Spartan press.

Martell led Somerset with 17 points and Ring scored 11 points. The Spartans amassed 19 steals in the game, led by Baillargeon with four. Ring led the team with seven rebounds and Vanasse came down with six rebounds. Ring and Karli Solum shared the team lead in assists with four.

Somerset coach Bill Powers said the primary goal for the Spartans was to do several things better than they had in their previous games. One of them was to get the ball upcourt quicker in transition. The other was to play tighter man-to-man defense.

The Spartans started the game using token full court pressure. When that had no effect in the first quarter, Powers had the team switch to a 1-2-1-1 full-court trap.

"That seemed to really bother them," Powers said.

The best offensive performance for the Tigers came from junior post player Kendra Mitchell. Mitchell led the Tigers with seven points. She continued to battle for shots in the lane and drew numerous fouls on her moves to the basket.

Hayley Peterson had 12 rebounds and Kim Bethke seven rebounds to lead the Tigers. The Tigers had 19 offensive rebounds in the game, but couldn't hit many of the putbacks. McKenzie Kelly led the Tigers with five steals. The Tigers committed 34 turnovers in the game.