The Superior High School girls basketball team fell to Duluth Denfeld 58-48 Tuesday night in Superior to drop its second straight game. The Spartans are now 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Lake Superior Conference.
Coming off their first defeat of the season, a 49-39 loss to Eau Claire North Friday, the Superior girls started the game cold Tuesday.
Both teams used a defensive set that gave their opponents trouble. The Hunters opened in a 2-3 zone to contain Superior’s strong inside game, and the Spartans forced Denfeld into turnovers with a scrappy full-court press.
After a few misses shots in the paint, the Spartans broke onto the scoreboard first when Bettye Jo Nelson grabbed her own rebound and made the put-back. Leah Hamm knocked down a 3-point shot to being the scoring for Denfeld at 14:16 and give the Hunters a 3-2 lead.
Nelson and Hamm would continue to dominate for their respective teams, with both scoring in double figures for the first half.
The lead changed more than half a dozen times in the first 18 minutes, and the teams were never more than four points apart until the final seconds of the half.
Superior led 22-21 minutes before halftime, but Hamm and the Hunters closed out with a 6-0 run to take a 27-22 lead into the second half.
Denfeld scored the first points of the second half on a pair of free throws and continued on an 8-0 run to open the first three minutes.
Leading the attack for the Hunters was Jess Havron. She had six of Denfeld’s first 10 points in the second half and scored 12 of her 14 points for the night after halftime.
Denfeld led by as much as 13 points before Superior began its comeback. Sophomore Samantha DeMeyer helped the Spartans get back into the game. She slipped a pass to Nelson under the basket the but the lead to six, 37-31, and then came up with a steal to give Superior a chance to make it a one-possession game.
The Spartans would get no closer, though as Havron continued to score for Denfeld and the Hunters pushed their lead back to double digits in the final three minutes.
Superior was forced to foul when Denfeld slowed down the game, and the Hunters made their free throws to win 58-48.
Hamm and Havron both finished in double figures for Denfeld. Hamm had 21 points, including going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, and Havron scored 14 points and led her team in rebounding.
Nelson was the only Spartan to score in double figures with 25 points. Janelle Strewler added eight points, Mary Beth Amys and Raya Kosey had four each, Christa Diedrich had three points, and MacKenzie Newman and DeMeyer had two points apiece.
"Bettye Jo Nelson played strong game and had several key steals," SHS coach Dan Schulz said. "We lacked our usual intensity on defense, which allowed some easy touches into the post for Denfeld. We got down by 15, but to the girls credit, they never gave up. We made some good runs but couldn't overcome that gap."
The Spartans next play in the Wausau Invite Dec. 29-30. Superior will play Antigo at 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wausau West at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Superior returns to Lake Superior Conference play Jan. 8 at Duluth Central.
Superior 22 26 — 48
Denfeld 27 31 — 58