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Spartan girls rocket past Tigers, 52-20

Somerset senior Ashley Martell (left) is shown driving to the basketball agsinst defensive pressure from New Richmond's Kaycie Anderson in Friday's game.

The Somerset girls basketball team wanted to show it should be considered a contender in the Middle Border Conference.

The New Richmond girls now need to show they can compete with the top teams in the MBC.

When New Richmond and Somerset met last Friday on the Spartans' home floor, one offense clicked and one offense fizzled. Somerset's girls led from the start and never showed signs of slipping in a 52-20 win over the Tigers.

This was the first MBC game for both teams and the first game after a long holiday break for both.

Somerset coach Kendrick Livers said one of the main goals for the team over the break was to become a multi-threat offense. He said defenses have been keying more and more on leading scorer Ashley Martell and he was looking for the other girls to step up their offensive productivity. They did, led by Paige Wagner and Ellie Vanasse.

Wagner was shooting from the perimeter and driving hard to the basket, resulting in a team-high 17 points. Vanasse was more active in the low post, scoring 10 points, all in the first half.

Martell still finished with 14 points, as she closes in on 1,000 points for her career. This left her 28 points away from that mark.

"We're banking on the fact that defenses can't just key on one person," Livers said about the team's new-found offensive diversity.

The young Tigers looked tentative in trying to execute their offense. Without much crispness in moving the ball, they weren't able to create many open shots.

Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer said he was "dumbfounded" by his team's panicked play in the game.

"We had a great week of practice. The girls were figuring out their responsibilities," Kanewischer said. "It was a different team than we coached all week."

The Tigers were led offensively by seniors Laura Troftgruben and Meghan Frank, who both scored five points.

Both coaches pointed to the second quarter as the turning point in the game. Neither team had established much offensively in the first quarter, where Somerset led 9-3.

In the second quarter the Spartans tore through the Tiger defense for 26 points. The Spartans were able to score off the dribble drive. They scored in transition. They scored off feeds to Vanasse in the low post. Pretty much everything imaginable was clicking for the Spartan offense.

The only drawback to the game for the Spartans was injuries. Junior guard Lauren Rathai sprained an ankle in the first quarter. Senior guard Karli Solum injured her back and sat out the final six minutes of the game after hitting the floor hard after being fouled. This drew extra concern because Solum missed much of last year with a back injury.

Both teams continue their conference schedules this week. New Richmond is at home on Thursday, while Somerset hosts Osceola on Friday. Both teams have non-conference games after that. New Richmond gets a visit from Hudson's girls on Saturday, while Somerset faces Glenwood City in the Spartans' gym next Tuesday.

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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