Ellie Leadstrom began her senior season by scoring her jersey number, 22, as the UW-Superior Yellowjackets handled the visiting Northland Lumberjills 88-59 on Wednesday, Jan. 27.
“It was great to see Ellie on her home court the first game of her senior year and score 22,” Yellowjackets coach Zach Otto-Fisher said. “As coaches, it’s good to know that we can rely on her.”
Leadstrom led all scorers but was nearly matched by Yellowjacket sophomore Kaija Davies, who finished with 19 points. The pair scored 17 of UW-Superior’s 21 points in the first quarter, and 29 of the team’s 48 in the first half. Sophomore Kaelyn Christian posted 10 in the second quarter and finished with 16.
“We lost a lot of scoring from last year, and we knew all three of them were very capable of it,” Otto-Fisher said. “Everybody’s just excited to be out playing after practicing for what, 100 days? Since October 1, basically.”
The Yellowjackets never trailed in their first game of the pandemic-shortened season and led 27-21 at the end of the first quarter, which featured a lot of dribble penetration from both teams’ man-to-man defenses. The quarter would have been even higher-scoring if not for a lot of missed baskets from both squads.
“That’s our halftime speech,” said Otto-Fisher. “I think we missed 12 bunnies down low right away. I think we could have had a double-digit lead.”
UW-Superior widened its lead by going on a 20-2 run spanning the first quarter break to go up 45-23 a few minutes before halftime. Northland’s two points during that span came from two free throws on six attempts; it did not score a field goal for the first eight minutes of the 10-minute quarter.
“Without teams playing, we don’t have film on each other, so I think it kinda took a quarter to realize what they were doing,” Otto-Fisher said. “Coach Tucker did a good job; they penetrated into the lane and drove against us, and we finally made adjustments in that second quarter.”
Over two-thirds of the Lumberjills’ scoring came from a pair of young guards. Sophomore Miranda Wagner and freshman Raniya White, who was playing her first collegiate game, each scored 20 points.
“We’re really young, and we think we have a good class,” said Northland coach Daryle Tucker. “We’ve got a pretty talented group.”
UW-Superior led 48-31 at halftime. After Northland scored the first three points of the second half, the Yellowjackets went on an 11-3 run to go up by 22 and all but ice the game.
“We had a lot of kids opt out, so having the five-on-five really affected us because we haven’t been able to get those looks in practice,” Tucker said. “They’re starting to execute, but it’s hard simulating that contact.
“I’m proud of ‘em. The timing is just off right now – it’ll come together.”
Both UW-Superior and Northland are in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, but Wednesday’s game will not count as a conference game. Because of the pandemic-shortened season, each team will play every other team exactly one time in conference play, but UMAC teams also scheduled each other for “non-conference” games early in the season. The Yellowjackets and Lumberjills are scheduled to play their conference game on February 24th in Ashland; UW-Superior opens UMAC play Saturday, Jan. 30, at home against Martin Luther.