Girls basketball: Local teams finish off regular seasons
Many Pierce County freshmen basketball players have proved themselves worthy of varsity playing time this season, but none have put up 27 points in a varsity game.
Except for Prescott's Bella Lenz.
Lenz recorded her career-high 27 points on Monday, Feb. 12 in the Cardinals' 75-28 win over the Glenwood City Hilltoppers (4-18).
"I felt really confident in my shooting, but I think as a team we had the best ball movement we've had all season," Lenz said, "which allowed for so many open looks and helped me to reach 27."
The freshman guard also recorded seven assists and four steals.
The Cardinals led 38-20 at halftime and held GC to just eight points in the second half.
Haylee Yaeger finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Allie Murphy added 14 points and four steals to Prescott's win.
Lenz's fellow freshman teammate Tori Benck scored her first varsity points over the Hilltoppers on Monday night.
The future looks bright for Prescott girls basketball with Lenz around for three more years, but the Cardinals have high hopes for this season that they'll focus their attention on before considering what's yet to come for their program.
"During the game I think we came out with a lot of energy, which isn't always the easiest thing to do, and that's something we really need to bring to every game," Lenz said. "I think playing with a high level of energy will be huge as we head into playoffs."
Scoring for the Cardinals: Lenz 27; Yaeger 18; Murphy 14; Mckenna Johnson 6; Katie Burmood 4; Ashley Rieken, Kaelyn Lewis, Benck 2.
Prescott 68, Osceola 55
The Cardinals also came away with their last regular season game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 15 against Osceola.
With the win, the Cardinals captured a final 13-9 regular season record, and finished 10-4 against Middle Border Conference opponents, which is the best conference record the program has produced since the 2002-03 season. They were granted a sixth seed in their Division 3 regionals tournament, and will host the Ellsworth Panthers once again on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Saint Croix Falls 55, Ellsworth 38
The Panthers fell victim to a strong inside game where Saint Croix Falls out-rebounded their guests by a substantial margin on Monday, Feb. 12.
The Saints (20-1) also benefited from 20 first-half free-throw attempts versus only one by Ellsworth. SCF was in the bonus at the 12-minute mark of the first half and reached the double bonus advantage shortly after.
"When you give up 20 free-throw attempts in a half you just don't give yourself a great chance to win," Panthers' head coach Jason Janke said. "SCF did a good job of jumping on us early and then played steady from there.
"We have to figure out how to get in better position on defense to stay away from so many fouls. It continues to be a focus of ours in practice."
Janke said that his team had hoped sophomore Holly Carlson would provide some more inside scoring, but she was injured while defending a drive by a Saints player within seconds of entering the game in the first half.
SCF led 33-15 at halftime and that was enough to keep the Panthers at bay. Kaitlyn Nugent led a brief end-of-the-first-half run that closed the gap to 12 points twice, but Ellsworth could not get any closer to their 19-1 opponents.
Nugent and Autumn Earney led the Panthers' offense with 10 points apiece, while Taylor Feuerhelm and Emma Swanson led the defense and rebounders, respectfully.
SCF's Sidney Hoverman led all scorers with 13 points.
"We were happy with how our girls fought to stay in the game after a very adverse beginning," Janke said. "Our kids did not back down, and that will serve us well."
Scoring for the Panthers: Earney, Nugent 10; Masen Bach, Olivia Lynner 6; Swanson 4; Kaitlin Peterson 2.
Scoring for the Saints: Hoverman 13; Emily McCurdy 12; Olivia Miron 9; Addie McCurdy 6; Annalise Parks 5; Azalea Edwards, Lucia Neuman 4; Bridgett Bergmann, Josey Kahl 1.
Somerset 62, Ellsworth 47
Ellsworth claimed a 29-27 halftime lead in their second game of the week on Thursday, Feb. 15 against the Somerset Spartans, but couldn't pull off their second conference win of the season.
The Panthers were led offensively by Nugent and Earney in the first half. Nugent had a three-point play as well as a three-point shot, while Earney rallied 13 points in the opening half. Nadia Sigler and Lynner each added three-pointers, too.
The Spartans (11-11, 7-7) answered with six first-half threes and found the mark on offense in the second half making 11 of 17 free-throw attempts.
After an opening half of only three fouls, the Panthers did not adjust in the second half as they were whistled for 12 fouls leading to 21 total free-throw attempts for the Spartans. The Spartans outscored Ellsworth 13-4 from the free-throw line, and as the second half wore on, the Panthers did not keep up on the scoreboard.
"Our girls played a very solid first half," Janke said. "We scored in transition and our half-court offense. Things didn't go as well after halftime."
Janke said his team needs to work on becoming less "jump-shot reliant."
"Somerset got some critical second-half shots, and we could not get a key basket when we needed one," Janke said. "We also have to improve our defense so that our foul differential isn't a 3:1 ratio as it's been quite often as of late."
Playing smarter on defense will be the Panthers' focus heading into the playoffs as it's been all season.
"We cannot put Prescott on the free-throw line," Janke said.
The Panthers (4-15, 1-12) will face the Cardinals for the third time this season on Tuesday, Feb. 20 in the first round of the Division 3 regionals. Ellsworth will attempt to seek vengeance for their most recent 72-61 loss on Prescott's home court that came on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Scoring for the Panthers: Earney 17; Nugent 11; Lynner, Swanson 6; Carlson 4; Sigler 3.
Saint Croix Central 59, Spring Valley 20
The Cardinals had another low-scoring night against the mighty 18-2 Division 3 Saint Croix Central Panthers team on Monday, Feb. 12.
Spring Valley was held to just five points in the opening half of their home game, while they gave up 37 Panther points.
SCC's leading scorer, Claire Frankiewicz, finished with 16 points to lead all scorers, while SV's top scorer, Camryn Wegener, led her team with four points.
Lexi Johansen, SV's leading scorer who's averaging 8.8 points per game this season, was held to just two points by the Panthers.
Boyceville 57, Spring Valley 17
The Cardinals' offensive hardships did not improve later in the week on Thursday, Feb. 15 against the Boyceville Bulldogs.
SV was once again held to just five first-half points against the second-to-last-place Dunn-St. Croix team, which set them back by a 20-point deficit heading into the half.
Boyceville's Marissa Dormanen led all scorers with 14 points, while Tessa Cipriano put up five points to lead the Cardinals in scoring.
The Cardinals finish their regular season with a 1-21 overall record and a 0-14 record against conference opponents. SV earned a 13th-seed for the Division 4 regionals, and will face Cameron (18-4) on the road on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Scoring for the Cardinals: Cipriano 5; Brianna O'Brien, Brenna Schreiber 4; Johansen, Wegener 2.
Scoring for the Bulldogs: Dormanen 14, Rachel Prestrud 13, Hannah Johnson 12, Tyra Kostman 7, Taylor Grambow 6, Emma Ouellette 4, Anna Evenson 1.