Krogseng and foul trouble give Prescott first MBC loss
The Prescott girls basketball team (2-2, 2-1) dropped their third conference game of the season to the 5-1 St. Croix Central Panthers at home on Friday, Dec. 8.
The Cardinals' second-half defense and foul trouble was the defining factor in their Friday-night loss.
Mackenzie Carey got her team off to a hot start with two early three-pointers that gave the Cardinals an 8-4 lead along with a bucket inside from Haylee Yaeger. Soon it was Prescott's Bella Lenz with the hot hand, and she hit two back-to-back threes to give the Cardinals an 18-9 lead over the Panthers with 10:19 left to go in the first half.
SCC's head coach Luke Fritsche called his team's first timeout of the night once the game reached a nine-point deficit.
Out of their timeout, the Panthers went on a 11-2 run led by the 5'10" guard Mia Krogseng. Krogseng finished with 33 points.
Lenz was able to break the Cardinals' cold streak by driving in the lane and splitting two defenders for an elite finish at the rim, but Prescott's Katie Miller was called for her third foul with 4:12 left in the half, which left the Cardinals a little shorthanded to end the half.
SCC's Kalli Cress made a three following Miller's foul to give the Panthers their first lead of the night, but a Murphy layup and one returned the lead to the Cardinals with 3:20 left before the break.
Krogseng would score her team's last bucket of the half, but Yaeger contributed four points to give the Cardinals a one-point lead at halftime.
At the half, Yaeger led the Cardinals with 10 points, Lenz had eight, Carey had six, Murphy had three and Miller dished in two points of her own.
The Cardinals found themselves in foul trouble again when Yaeger picked up her third personal foul on an offensive charge with 16:55 still left to play in the game. McKenna Johnson was subbed in in replace of Yaeger.
After the game, head coach Ron Murphy said he thought Johnson and Kaelyn Lewis gave his team some good minutes when asked to step up for their teammates in foul trouble.
The Cardinals were able to stay within two points of the Panthers without Yaeger and Miller in the game, but Murphy sent his bigs back in with 11:03 on the clock. The two Middle Border Conference teams traded leads with points from Krogseng, Cress and Murphy, but the Panthers went on a 4-0 run with back-to-back Krogseng layups after Yaeger got her fourth foul and was brought back to the bench.
The Cardinals found themselves down by four with 4:56 in the game, and Murphy huddled up his players in a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Murphy drove in the lane and picked up Claire Frankiewicz's third foul of the night, and was two-for-two at the free-throw line.
The Cardinals were back within two at 49-51, but were unable to stop Krogseng on the defensive end, and began to rush shots during crunch time.
A three from Murphy brought the game within four, and coach Murphy called another timeout, but the Cardinals were forced to foul with less than a minute left to play, and Cress went one-for-one at the line to give SCC a six-point lead.
Down by six, Prescott took a long time to put up a shot and wasted 12 seconds before losing the possession and sending Krogseng back to the charity stripe where she was one-for-two.
The Cardinals got one last look at a three from Lenz, but the basket was no good, and SCC diminished Prescott's undefeated conference record.
Murphy led the Cardinals in scoring with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half. She also added five rebounds to her team's effort.
Murphy said Krogseng's 33 points really highlighted the faults in her team's defense.
"I think our defense has come a long ways since the beginning [of the season]," Murphy said, "but it's definitely one thing that we need to work on — getting our helpside defense over there, but I think once that comes together we'll be in pretty good shape."
Earlier in the week, Prescott beat Amery 53-53 in another game that came down to the wire. The difference in Tuesday and Friday nights' games for the the Cardinals according to Murphy? Free throw attempts.
"We didn't really get to the free throw line [tonight]," Murphy said. "On Tuesday night we were able to get to the free throw line and step up and make them, so that was huge.
"We also played good defense against Amery, and we weren't able to do that tonight."
Once again, Murphy took control of the game once her team was in trouble in the second half.
"I've had two years on varsity, and I think that's definitely helped me to be able to know what I need to do in order to help my team convert," Murphy said. "I know from being in Bella's position as a freshman it's different from middle school ball, so I know what I need to do in order to make her more comfortable handling the ball."
Lenz finished with eight points and six assists in Friday night's game, and seems to have a promising varsity career just like her mentor, Murphy.
SCC managed to hold Yaeger scoreless in the second half, and she finished with 10 points. Katie Miller led the Cardinals in rebounding with six boards, and Carey and Katie Burmood each contributed three assists.
Along with Krogseng's 33 points, Frankiewicz added 11 points, and Cress had 10 points in her team's MBC win.
After Friday night's game, coach Murphy said he felt his team had poor shot selection in the second half, especially late in the game.
"I think we learned a lot as a team," Murphy said. "I think the moment got a little too big for us the last three or four minutes of the game."
Coach Murphy, like his daughter, retreated back to Krogseng as the major reason for Prescott's late struggles.
"You can tell [Krogseng] has been here a lot of times, she understands, she gets the ball, she takes control, and she gets the looks that she needs," Murphy said. "I just thought that was really the difference."
Murphy said his team still has a long ways to go defensively, but noted that they did face the two best players in the conference in four days.
"They're going to make you look a little weak on the defensive side," Murphy said.
After the game, Murphy told his players that he continues to see them making strides, but that their foul trouble really made the difference in the game's turnout.
"We're just trying to get a little better every week," Murphy said. "The big game is in February when we get [SCC].
"We're not happy with the result, but we're pleased with the improvement."
The Cardinals will attempt to make one more stride of improvement on Thursday, Dec. 14 when they travel to Somerset for another MBC game scheduled for 7:15 p.m.