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Somerset girls basketball going through growing pains

Freshman guard Baily Paulus puts up a shot during the Spartans' loss to St. Croix Falls on Friday.

The lack of varsity experience on the Somerset girls basketball team has resulted in the Spartans taking some hard hits in the early stages of the 2012-13 season.

The Spartans dropped to 0-4 on Monday when they played at Hayward, traditionally one of the top programs in the Heart O'North Conference. The Spartans lost the game 69-17.

The Spartans made their home debut last Friday, losing to St. Croix Falls 61-24. The closest game thus far for the Spartans came last Tuesday. Facing a similarly young Osceola team, the Spartans were competitive throughout the entire game, losing by eight points.

Somerset coach Kendrick Livers said the team's inexperience shows most on offense. He said the quickest way for the Spartans to increase their offensive production is to get senior center Sarah Krig more involved in the offense. Livers said getting the ball consistently to Krig in the low post should get the team some quality shots it needs and with her height advantage over most defenders, she should be able to draw numerous fouls.

The game at Osceola showed that the Spartans are nearly ready to compete evenly with their opponents. Livers said seniors Sadie Gilbertson, Anna Siggens and Jamie Victor hit several shots in the second half to keep the Spartans in contention. Gilbertson also led the Spartans with six points at Hayward.

Livers said he saw some promising things from Monday's game at Hayward. He said the Spartans forced Hayward out of its full-court press because the team executed its press break so well. He said Gilbertson did very well in leading the team's press break. Livers said the Spartans increased their defensive intensity in Monday's game, putting up a good battle until turnovers turned the game in Hayward's favor in the middle of the second quarter.

Livers looked to two of the top teams in the Middle Border Conference for examples of how the Somerset program will proceed.

"We watched New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville rebuild and that's where we're at now," he said. "We're a work in progress but we're staying up beat."

The Spartans have five freshmen on their varsity roster, but Livers is being careful to bring them along slowly.

"The freshmen will be nice players, they just need to get their feet under them," he said.

One obstacle for the Spartans is their difficult schedule. The Spartans play at home on Friday, facing Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans will also be at home next Tuesday, in a non-conference game against Boyceville.