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Somerset girls basketball starts season 2-0

Senior guard Georgia Hammer (14) was the leading scorer for Somerset in both of the team's games last week. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

A young team with a minimal chance to practice before its opening games could have been a recipe for disaster. But the Somerset girls basketball team navigated through the challenge to win its opening two games of the season last week.

The Spartans opened the season with a 36-26 win at Barron last Tuesday. In their home debut, the Spartans toppled Unity 57-52 on Thursday.

There is only one senior returning for the Spartans: guard Georgia Hammer. Sophomores Dani Schachtner, Rachel Gaikowski and Taylor Paulson saw significant time last season. In juniors Liv Hoff, Eve Goldstein and Madisen Beuthling, the Spartans have three more girls who've shown their fully capable of handling varsity playing time.

The biggest concern for Spartan coach Cory Lindenberg was that something might flare up during one of the games and the team wouldn't have practice time to remedy the problem. The Spartans faced two teams with different approaches and handled them both.

Barron tried to use full court pressure to shut down the Spartans. The Spartans were able to get the ball into the post to Schachtner, who scored eight points in the first half, helping Somerset build a 20-10 halftime lead.

Barron charged back in the second half, cutting the lead to 23-22. That's when Hammer showed she's ready to lead the team. She scored the game's next eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to put the Spartans safely ahead. Hammer finished with a game-high 12 points.

That was just the beginning for Hammer. Unity played a zone defense that caused the Spartans major problems in the first half Thursday. Hammer carried the offensive burden, scoring 28 points. She also produced eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Unity had two tall post players, but Schachtner was still able to account for 13 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.

Lindenberg said Goldstein became a key factor for the Spartans. Paulson got into early foul trouble, so Goldstein ended up playing much of the game. Teaming Schachtner and Goldstein together in the post neutralized the production from Unity's post players.

Paulson became a factor in the second half. Unity led 34-27 early in the second half. The Spartans then took the lead with an 11-0 run, which included two 3-pointers from Paulson.

The Spartans are scheduled to start Middle Border Conference play this Tuesday at home against Ellsworth. Lindenberg said he foresees the conference race being extremely close this season.

"The conference is compressed. The bottom teams have come up and the top teams have come down. I like what we have talent wise, the composition of our team. I wouldn't be surprised to see us finish in the top third of the conference."

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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