Evergreen girls end seasonWEBSTER — The Northwood High School girls basketball team took on the Siren Dragons in Webster Saturday
By: Emily Kram, The Daily Telegram
WEBSTER — The Northwood High School girls basketball team took on the Siren Dragons in Webster Saturday in a rematch from last year’s WIAA Division 4 regional final game. Jon Rudd, coach of the Dragons, had last year’s game on his mind, and he was determined history would not repeat itself.
“We were up six with six to go a year ago and one of our captains came off the floor and said, ‘Let’s run a stall,’” Rudd said.
Rudd consulted the rest of the team, and the players didn’t want to stall.
“When we lost last year, I’ve always looked back on that as the one thing I wish I’d done differently,” Rudd said. “Not going into that stall, right after that Northwood made a couple of baskets last year and we never had a chance to run the stall. We ended up losing.”
This year, Rudd had a strong feeling of deja vu when Northwood called a timeout with six minutes play, trailing Siren by five points. Rudd asked his assistant coach and players if they wanted to run a stall. The answer was again no, but Rudd decided to take a chance.
“It was exactly the same as last year,” he said. “I thought back and said, ‘Gosh darn it, the clock is my enemy right now and we’ve still got the lead. Let’s get minutes off the clock.’”
The move nearly backfired when Northwood took possession after Siren missed a shot with about four minutes left. NHS Senior Ashley Albano then put the ball off the glass to cut Siren’s lead to 26-23.
With 2:46 left, the Dragons turned the ball over during their stall, and Northwood had a chance to move within one. The Evergreens missed a pair of free throws and Siren recovered the rebound.
After that, Rudd’s strategy paid off as the Evergreens were forced to foul. The Dragons hit their free throws down the stretch and went on to get the 35-25 win.
“It’s a tough loss,” NHS coach Jason Schultz said. “The girls played hard and I’m proud of my seniors, proud of my team. It’s one of those deals where we came in here last year and we won the regional. I think the girls were looking forward to having that chance again, it just didn’t happen.”
Siren freshman Carly Emery led all scorers with 14 points. Going into the game she had 420 points on the season and was averaging nearly 19 per game. She scored the Dragons’ first six points Saturday but then ran into trouble.
“That first half, when (Taylor) Fellbaum went off the floor, I thought here we go, we’re going to press and they’re going to struggle,” Rudd said. “About 30 seconds later, my freshman gets her third foul. It turned into a half of each team kind of limping to the end of the quarter and just trying to get to halftime to regroup.”
The Dragons certainly came out like a different team in the third quarter, going on an 11-0 run that put them in front for good.
“If I remember correctly, it wasn’t that we weren’t getting shots,” Schultz said. “I think we were getting chances at the basket, we just weren’t finishing. Throughout the game we struggled to score. We were unable to knock down the outside shot, which is usually one of our strengths.
“They had that nice run to start the third. They scored on three or four possessions there, and that happens. I’m still proud of my team. I’d like to have the opportunity to play them again tomorrow because I think things could be a little different.”
For the Evergreens, Albano led the way with eight points. Ashlee Blegen scored six points and freshman Deanna Scheller played a nice game off the bench with five points and a number of key rebounds. Erin Okonek had four points for NHS and Annie Block added two.
Three Dragons finished with six points: Jennifer Mitchell, Lynette Renberg and Janey Emery. Hailey Mullroy also chipped in with three points.
The Evergreen lose some key players with the departure of seniors Albano, Fellbaum and Okonek, but Schultz said Northwood will cope.
“We’re definitely going to miss our seniors,” he said. “We’re going to have to replace some scoring, but generally scoring is one of the easier things to replace. Ball handling, the rebounding, leadership, that will come with time. We’ve got some good girls coming back.”
Eight freshmen, two of which played extensive varsity time, will be expected to play a large roll next season. The JV team ended the this year with a 17-1 record, and many of those players may be moving up to the varsity squad.
In terms of leadership, this year’s juniors, Ashlee Blegen and Janey Murray, will lead the way.
“Don’t cry for the Evergreens,” Schultz said. “We’ll be just fine. We’re coming back with a vengeance.”