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Girls basketball: Nelson and turnovers defeat Wolves

EPC senior Lexi Diesing dives on the floor for a loose ball in Monday night's game against Eleva-Strum. Diesing finished the nonconference game with 11 rebounds, 10 points, three steals, one assist, one block and multiple hustle plays that didn't make it into the stat book. Katie Davidson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Senior Ellie Funk goes up for one of her eight rebounds in EPC's game against the Eleva-Strum Cardinals on Monday, Nov. 20. Katie Davidson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves girls basketball team dropped their second game of the 2017-2018 season, but not because of a lack of effort.

Turnovers are what killed the Wolves' chances of carrying on their winning streak in their 52-65 loss to the Eleva-Strum Cardinals on Monday, Nov. 20.

"I think that they showed some heart to come back a couple of times, and then unfortunately each time we tried that, our turnovers got to us again," Wolves head coach Shaughn Laehn said. "We're still lacking confidence, and I think that really shows up when you play a team that is faster than you and a little bit more athletic in some spots. I think our default is kind of like, 'Oh, that's going to happen again.'

"We need to build on that confidence, and we need to protect the ball more. As soon as we did something good, we'd take one step forward then two back."

Whether they were down by three or 20 points, the Wolves dove for loose balls and tried to outhustle their athletic opponents, but their relentless work ethic wasn't enough to get past the Cardinals.

"I do think that they worked hard, but I think the discipline they kind of let me down on. They know better than to throw the passes that they were throwing; we talked about that at halftime," Laehn said. "I told them, 'You know, the plays that you're making, they don't jive with your grade point average.' They're smart, but sometimes under pressure the basketball smarts don't come through quite as much as I'd like them to."

EPC had four players score in double figures in Monday night's game, but the Wolves' hot hands weren't enough to stop Eleva-Strum's Brianna Nelson.

The young, sophomore point guard led her Cardinals team with 25 points and gave EPC's defense a run for its money. Laehn said Nelson was not really on EPC's radar prior to the game.

"I think that really makes it tough when our girls see somebody who they can't cover and is that athletic," Laehn said. "She's a good player, and I think it was good for a couple of different girls to give their shot at trying to cover her."

EPC was also led in scoring by their point guard, junior Alyssa Peterson, who finished with 15 points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists.

Lexi Diesing recorded her first double-double of the season with 11 rebounds and 10 points. She also had three steals and one assist.

Ellie Funk added 11 points to the Wolves' effort, seven of which came from the free-throw line. The senior brought energy to her team by driving through the lane and drawing fouls from multiple Cardinals players throughout the game. Funk continued to be an all-around asset for her team by also contributing eight rebounds, four assists and one steal.

Junior Rowan Rupakus also had an impressive scoring night for the Wolves; she recorded 12 points, four rebounds and one steal.

Senior Hannah Feuker finished the game with four points and four rebounds.

The Wolves will continue their season after Thanksgiving break, and until then, will focus on cutting down their turnovers and building up their team confidence.

"I think probably tomorrow night we'll just look at the stats and have them do some self-reflection," Laehn said Monday night. "We'll probably just try to have some fun tomorrow night in practice, and then we'll have a few days off with vacation. We have to look at a few of the positives and try and send them home for a couple of days to think about what we could do better."

The Wolves will return after the holiday break to take on the Clayton Bears on Tuesday, Nov. 28 in their double header with the EPC boys varsity team. The tip-off for the boys game is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. at Elmwood High School, and the girls game will follow at 7:15 p.m.