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Somerset girls show peaks and valleys of young team

Somerset guard Georgia Hammer (left) tries to drive around a Barron defender during last week's game in Somerset. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The ups and downs of a young team were seen in the two performances by the Somerset girls basketball team last week.

The Spartans went to Unity last Tuesday, Nov. 28 and knocked off a quality opponent, 64-61. On their home court last Thursday, the Spartans struggled with turnovers and fouls in a 57-44 loss to Barron.

"We're going to be a Jekyll and Hyde team all year," Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg predicted. "The Unity game represents what we can be."

The Spartans played an excellent offensive game at Unity, putting three girls in double figures for scoring. That was led by junior guard Georgia Hammer, who scored a career-high 19 points. Freshman Rachel Gaikowski scored 15 points and senior guard Anna Rybacki contributed 13 points. Tori Gareis also made her biggest offensive contribution thus far with nine points.

Unity led the game by six points until Hammer hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. The Spartans took the lead early in the second half and led by as many as eight points. Unity then came back to build a three-point lead with three minutes left. A layup by Hammer cut the lead to one. Gareis was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and she hit both shots to give Somerset a 44-43 lead. Hammer hit two free throws with 30 seconds remaining to make the final margin three points.

"It was a really gritty, inspiring win," Lindenberg said. "It was a great back-and-forth game."

The Spartans got out to a rough start against Barron and spent the rest of the game trying to make up the difference. Barron went up eight points in the opening minutes of the game. Somerset clawed back, getting within two points at 19-17. Barron then scored the final seven points of the half to lead 26-17 at the break.

The second half started with the Spartans making another charge. Again, the Spartans got within two points, at 35-33, before Barron quickly rebuilt its lead.

Rybacki led the Spartans with 17 points against Barron and Hammer finished with 10 points.

Lindenberg said one area the Spartans need to improve is in its team defense against post players. In the Spartans' first three games, opposing starting post players are averaging 25 points per game.

He said the team's inexperience shows in taking care of the ball. Turnovers were a major problem against Barron. When the Spartans took good care of the ball, they had stretches where they racked up points quickly. But the bouts with turnovers resulted in the team also having several extended scoreless stretches.

Somerset's next two games will both be on the road. They will play a Middle Border Conference game at Osceola this Friday before heading to St. Croix Falls for a non-conference game 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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