The natural instinct of the New Richmond girls basketball team under pressure is to hurry up the game.
But the rushed play played right into the hands of the Superior Spartans on Thursday, Dec. 21. The Tigers and Superior were tied at 23-23 late in the first half. But the Tigers got caught up in a wave of frantic play in the second half, losing to Superior 59-35.
The Tigers made a charge late in the first half to tie Superior. The Spartans got the final hoop of the half to lead at the break, 25-23. Superior took charge right away in the second half, starting the half with an 8-0 run. That charge continued, with the Spartans scoring 24 of the first 27 points of the second half.
The Superior game is part of a stretch of five tough non-conference games in a row for the Tigers. That started with the loss against La Crosse Central on Dec. 16. This week the Tigers face two more challenges, playing at Rice Lake on Thursday, before hosting undefeated Durand on Saturday. (Saturday's varsity game time has been moved to 2 p.m.) The fifth of the non-conference games is at Menomonie next Tuesday, Jan. 2.
The first half of Thursday's game against Superior saw the Tigers do some good things, primarily on defense. That was led by junior Amanda Johnson and sophomore Zoey Christensen. Johnson scored all six of her points in the first half and Christensen netted five of her team-high eight points in the first half. Tiger coach Ryan Schradle was particularly pleased with what he saw from Johnson.
"Amanda made the most of her minutes," Schradle said, noting that Johnson also led the team with eight rebounds.
The game had all the appearances at halftime of one that would go down to the wire. Superior made a few defensive changes at halftime and the Tigers fell right into the Spartans' plan.
"These girls get sped up so easily," Schradle said. "Somebody's got to step up and have some composure."
The frantic pace the Tigers played at in the second half led the team turning the ball over a whopping 33 times.
"You can't be successful when you turn the ball over that many times," Schradle said.
Kate Miller contributed seven rebounds and four assists for the Tigers on Thursday. Leah DeYoung produced six rebounds and three steals.