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Somerset girls face adversity, overcome it

Ashley Martell scored 20 points in the win over Bloomer.

It was a week of adversity, and finding ways to deal with it, for the Somerset girls basketball team.

The Spartans found out midway through the week that they would be without starting junior forward Karli Solum for the rest of the season. Solum played limited minutes in last Tuesday's win at Spooner, but the discomfort in her lower back led to her family seeking out medical specialists to find the source of her pain.

It was found that Solum has a fracture in one of her lumbar vertebrae in her lower back. She will need to sit out the rest of the season to give the injury time to heal.

The first game without Solum came Friday, against a Bloomer team that started 2-0 and has a nice blend of outside shooters and post players. The Spartans fell behind by 10 points in the second quarter, when coach Kendrick Livers unleashed the team's full-court press. By halftime the Spartans had taken a 34-33 lead. They continued to make their pressure work in the second half, leading to a 66-56 win over Bloomer.

Replacing Solum will really have to be done in two ways, according to Livers. Solum was the most versatile of Spartans. She was the team's leading rebounder, but also has the ball handling skills of a guard.

Livers said sophomores Laura Wells and Dani Dickson are getting the first opportunities to replace Solum on the perimeter. Wells was aggressive going to the basket in Friday's game, as were many of the Spartans. Wells finished with nine points, all on free throws. Livers said Paige Wagner has played well on the junior varsity and could also see time in that role on the varsity.

Replacing Solum's rebounding will be just as important. Sophomore Bridget Kieckhoefer started at center against Bloomer. Livers said she and classmates Ellie Vanasse and Carley Seibel will need to provide strong rebounding for the team.

Livers said he was pleased with how seniors Lauren Westerdahl and Alicia Potting stepped up their presence as leaders on the team during the difficult week.

And we haven't even talked about leading scorer Ashley Martell yet. Martell is averaging more than 22 points per game, including scoring 20 in Friday's win. Bloomer steered plenty of defensive pressure her way, but Martell has such a quick release on her shot that she still was able to get her chances.

Bloomer was on the verge of pulling away in the second quarter, taking a lead of 10 points. The Spartans then clamped down their press. It not only caused turnovers, but it tired out the Bloomer girls. Bloomer got into more and more foul trouble, eventually sending the Spartans to the line for 42 free throws.

Westerdahl scored 14 points for the Spartans including making 7-8 free throws. She led the team with five rebounds and four steals.

Not derailed

The Spartans used a 26-7 advantage in the second quarter to put away Spooner last Tuesday, 56-38.

The snowy bus ride may have affected the Spartans, because they didn't score for several minutes at the start of the game. By the end of the first quarter they'd tied the score at 8-8.

The full-court pressure used by the Spartans got the game swung in their favor in the second quarter. Five Spartans scored four or more points in the quarter, led by seven from Martell and six from Solum.

Martell would end up with a team-high 16 points. Solum was next in line with eight points. Solum collected seven rebounds to lead the team, followed by six from Kieckhoefer. Potting led the team with four steals.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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