Rocky start to Bluejay girls basketball season

The Merrill girls basketball season got off to a rocky start over the weekend with a pair of losses at the Waupaca Tournament.

The Jays opened the tournament against New London, who handed Merrill a 63-27 loss.

New London jumped out to an early and commanding lead, holding a 23-3 advantage after the first quarter. That lead stretched to 42-10 at halftime. Merrill played a closer game in the second half, where New London scored 21 points to Merrill’s 17.

“New London was a rough start for us,” said Merrill coach Melissa Yuska. “We did not come out ready to play in the first half and we could not connect on the offensive end. We were never able to get into a rhythm of any kind offensively the entire game, which hurt us right from the start. Turnovers hurt us too.”

Against New London, Merrill Jourdyn Mootz scored the team-high 11 points; Ellen Donner added 6; and Emma Sowieja, Liz Smith, Aly Brandvold, Marissa Bartz and Renee Sladek each had 2. The Bluejays hit 10 of 23 free throw attempts for 43 percent accuracy. Individual stats included: English (4 rebounds, 1 block), Sladek (4 rebounds, 2 steals), Donner (1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 steals), Mootz (2 rebounds), and Bartz (1 rebound, 1 block).

On Saturday, Merrill took on a more familiar foe, Antigo. Again, a slow start put Merrill in an early hole as they were down 14-6 after the first quarter and 21-12 at the half. Merrill cut the margin to 7 points after 3 quarters of play, but a late Red Robin run put the game out of reach.

“Our offense hurt us against Antigo as well,” Yuska said. “We shot 21% from the floor and 33% from the free throw line by going 7 of 21.

“You are not going to win games if you can’t score,” she added. “We had a number of turnovers against Antigo as well. We were able to force Antigo into a number of turnovers too but we could not capitalize on them by scoring off of them. We are going to need to get our offense rolling and find some rhythm.”

In the Antigo game, Mootz scored 14 points, followed by Bartz with 6 and Andi English with 3. Smith and Donner each had 2. Other contributions came from: English (11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks), Brandvold (5 rebounds, 4 steals), Mootz (4 rebounds, 2 steals), Sladek (4 rebounds, 2 steals), Bartz (3 rebounds, 1 assist).

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