MHS girls forge split in non-league games
The Merrill girls rode the road roller-coaster last week, falling 43-25 at Wis. Rapids Assumption on Tuesday, before rallying with a 47-26 triumph over Lakeland on Friday.
The Bluejays raced to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter of Friday’s contest behind seven points apiece from Renee Sladek and Dawn Leland. They put a serious crimp in the T-Birds’ chances by upping the ante to 31-13 and 41-21 over the next two quarters and closed it out with a 6-5 fourth.
“We came out on fire,” MHS coach Melissa Yuska said. “It was awesome to see. We created a lot of problems for them with our full court pressure and never looked back.
“We had some excellent passes that created great shot opportunities for the girls and we finished inside as well as out. The girls did a great job with pressuring on defense and that is what we wanted to do. It was nice to come out and execute the game plan. There are many girls that are contributing and that is great to see. Our team played smart and that is what we need to continue to do here on out.”
Sladek led all scorers with 17 points with 7-of-12 shooting from the field, and added 4 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Other offerings came from: Leland (11 p, 3 r, 3 bl); Lauren Hojan (6 p); Mariah Turenne (5 p); and Emily Page (3 a).
Merrill–FG: 19-36 (53%); FT: 7-9 (%). Lakeland–FG: 11; FT: 3-4 (75%).
The Bluejays held a 3-1 record overall and 0-0 in the Valley heading into Tuesday’s game at Wausau West (4-0, 1-0). SPASH (1-5, 0-1) comes here Friday.
Flip side of the coin
Tuesday’s game was up in the air for much longer, as the Royals grabbed a 13-7 first-quarter lead but was only able to extend it to 25-17 by halftime before the teams played to a 7-7 tie in the third. But an 11-1 fourth put the capper on the Assumption win.
“Assumption came out very strong with their press and we had a lot of trouble breaking it,” Yuska said. “We were not able to get into any kind of offense and when we did we were not able to connect on our shots.
“They really took control of the game and we struggled with that. Their press caused us a lot of problems, but we were still in the game going into the fourth. It was only an eight-point game.
“We would have some momentum swing our way, but then we would have a turnover to swing it the other way. We just could not get over the hump to cut their lead. Then, during the fourth, we just lost it and they pulled away. It was a frustrating game for the kids. There were positives and negatives. We just need to learn from the game and move on.”
The Jays had balanced production from: Sladek (3 p, 8 r, 3 bl); Morgan Marnholtz (5 p, 3 r); Leland (4 p, 2 bl); Hojan (4 p); Turenne (4 p); and Page (3 p).
Assumption also offered balanced scoring with no players in double digits but seven with at least 4.
Merrill–FG: 10-31 (32%); FT: 3-7 (43%). W.R. Assump.–FG: 18; FT: 6-13 (46%).