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Somerset girls basketball downed in tournament opener

Junior Georgia Hammer, shown in a game earlier this season, led Somerset with 20 points in the Spartans' tournament loss to Barron. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Foul trouble and cold shooting proved too much to overcome for the Somerset girls basketball team in its WIAA tournament opener last Tuesday.

The Spartan girls lost to Barron, 57-41, in the opening round of Division 3 tournament action. The loss ends Somerset's season, finishing with an 11-12 overall record.

In most games, the Spartans play six to seven girls in their regular rotation. So when early foul trouble gripped the team, it hurt. And it became more damaging in the second half when two Spartans fouled out and two others ended the game with four fouls.

Senior Anna Rybacki is Somerset's leading scorer and one of the team's best defenders. Midway through a close first half, Rybacki picked up her third foul. Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said the Spartans couldn't afford to take Rybacki out, so they went into a zone defense to put her in a position where she wouldn't draw a fourth foul. Barron took immediate impact, going on a 9-0 run. At halftime, Somerset trailed 29-17.

Barron started the second half with the momentum from its strong start, stretching the lead as high as 20 points. Somerset then tried to come back, carried by the hot shooting of junior Georgia Hammer. Hammer hit three treys and scored 12 points in the second half as the Spartans winnowed the lead down to 10 points. But 20 points was simply too much ground to recover from, especially when Hammer fouled out with several minutes left in the game.

"She was the entire offense in the second half," Lindenberg said of Hammer, who finished with a game-high 20 points.

Shooting accuracy has been one of the Spartans' chief attributes through the second half of the season. Lindenberg said he wasn't sure if it was "the pressure of the moment," but shots that usually fall for the Spartans weren't dropping in this game.

Lindenberg said some of that was due to Barron's defense. The Bears did all they could to take away Rybacki's drives to the basket, which are a key ingredient in the Somerset attack. With Rybacki walled off, the Spartans weren't getting as many open looks.

There were defensive highlights, Lindenberg said. The main one came from freshman post player Dani Schachtner, who blocked four Barron shots in one sequence.

The Spartans graduate two seniors, Rybacki and Tori Gareis. After Somerset reached the sectional title game last year, this year's team felt pressure early in the season to live up to that standard. But with Rybacki being the only player returning with significant varsity playing time, this season's Spartans had to carve out their own identity. The Spartans went 6-3 to end the regular season.

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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