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Somerset girls basketball continues to make positive steps

Somerset senior Anna Siggens fires a pass upcourt during last Tuesday's game at New Richmond.

It's easy to write off an 0-9 team, but the Somerset girls basketball team certainly isn't writing off its season.

The Spartans continued to show improvement, being competitive for a half against New Richmond and then being in the game until the final moments against River Falls last Thursday.

In the loss at New Richmond, the Spartans trailed 20-14 until giving up a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. That shot wiped out all of Somerset's momentum and they never found it again, losing 52-21.

In Thursday's home game against River Falls, the Spartans found out how it felt to be in contention for an entire game. It wasn't until the Spartans were forced to foul in the final minutes that the Wildcats pulled away for a 43-31 win.

This week the Spartans will play in a tournament at Thorp on Thursday and Friday. The Spartans will face Abbotsford at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. They will play against either Thorp or New Richmond on Friday.

Being able to play a closely contested game against River Falls was a big step for the Spartans. The Spartans showed marked improvement at both ends of the court. Senior Sadie Gilbertson had the highest scoring total of the season, scoring 19 points against River Falls.

A big reason Gilbertson was able to flourish on offense was the team's drastic improvement in taking care of the ball. The Spartans committed just 12 turnovers, after averaging 30 turnovers per game earlier in the season.

Spartan coach Kendrick Livers said the girls improved their turnover total by showing improved poise with the ball. He said the Spartans have faced several teams that use intimidating full-court pressure like Bloomer, Hayward, New Richmond and Prescott. He said the experience in those games has helped the Spartans understand that they need to be patient in breaking the press.

Livers said a main reason for the steady improvement is the positive attitude the girls have maintained. That led to what he felt was the team's best performance against River Falls.

"The girls feel we're getting better, they're upbeat," he said.

In addition to Gilbertson's 19 points, Baily Paulus finished with five points, Anna Siggens four points, Sarah Krig two points and Kaitlyn Berg one point.

The first half at New Richmond showed the Spartans can be a factor with their defense. The Spartans didn't score in the first quarter of that game, but because their defense was playing with passion, they were still in the contest.

The Spartans scored the first two hoops of the second quarter off steals by Gilbertson and the rest of the quarter was highly competitive. Livers said the team learned a tough lesson, that they can't let up for a second when New Richmond senior Kaycie Anderson hit a three-pointer at the buzzer before halftime.

It seems that there are new players showing they can be offensive factors for the Spartans. Against New Richmond it was freshman Samantha Flandrick. She hit shots from the perimeter and showed a willingness to drive to the basket, finishing with a team-high nine points.