St. Mary’s girls pull away against Alta-Aurelia
STORM LAKE - After the first eight minutes on Tuesday night, St. Mary’s offense had issues finding a rhythm. A hot hand in the second changed momentum against Alta-Aurelia on Tuesday night as St. Mary’s took a 50-26 decision against the Warriors for their fifth win of the season, besting last season’s total of four wins.
Both teams came out to start the game with unsteady play, turnovers causing some disruption on offense. The Warriors hit a pair of threes in the first frame to help take a five point lead to the second quarter, 9-4.
The Panther defense continued to play hard against the Warriors, both teams settling for zone defenses for most of the night. St. Mary’s freshman Emily Nothwehr caught fire in the second quarter, draining four three-pointers to help give the Panthers a four point edge at halftime, 21-17.
“Emily’s run was huge for us. A-A played a box-one defense and we were getting okay shots but nothing was falling. We decided to put Lizzie [Lenhart] in the post and put Danika [Demers], Emily and Elle [Bacon] outside,” St. Mary’s Coach Derek Varner said. “We moved the ball to the open person. I think it deflated Alta-Aurelia and got our crowd back into the game.”
St. Mary’s continued to build upon their advantage in the third quarter with solid defense and making open shots. They carried at 14-point cushion to the fourth quarter, 36-22. The Panthers continued to play hard in the final eight minutes, allowing only two points in that span to continue to stretch their advantage until the final horn.
Varner stated that they played better defensively in the second half thanks to a more patient offense that took care of the ball, not allowing any easy transition points for the Warriors.
“We tightened up our offense,” he said. “Our pressure defense also started working and caused them to miss some shots.”
Nothwehr led all scorers with 22 points on the night on 7-of-15 shooting with five three pointers. St. Mary’s freshman Danika Demers had 14 points to go with 10 assists and three steals. Senior Lizzie Lenhart added 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with four steals.
The Panthers went 18-of-51 from the floor and connected on 8-of-27 from behind the arc. They struggled at the free throw line going 6-of-12. St. Mary’s had 31 rebounds, 15 assists and 13 steals.
“We played a great first half. We held the lead for 14 minutes in the first half and executed the game plan perfectly,” A-A Coach Adam Rapp said. “The girls played hard but just faded away on the offense end in the second half. I’m proud of the girls and their effort.”
A-A junior Chloe Kruger scored nine points on a trio of triples while adding four blocked shots. Junior Sydney Stanton added nine points and freshman Maria Kueny scored six.
St. Mary’s improves to 5-6 and 2-2 in the Twin Lakes Conference. The Panthers will welcome in 3-8, 0-4 East Sac County tonight.
“It should be a fun game and I’m excited,” Varner said. “We’ll have to play our best ball. This is a game that’s circled for us because it will show us where we’re at.”
Alta-Aurelia is still searching for their first win of the year. They will host unbeaten South Central Calhoun this evening who come into the contest ranked fifth in 2A.