Girls' basketball: Room for improvement evident in Prescott's latest win
The New Richmond Tigers have kept the Prescott Cardinals from playing their best in their two league matchups this season.
The Cardinals (16-2, 11-1) managed to grind out a 52-48 win against their relentless guests on Friday, Feb. 8, but not without a fight from the Tigers (11-8, 6-6) who didn't throw in the towel until the final five seconds of Friday night's contest.
Prescott's senior co-captain credited New Richmond's fight to its badgering 2-3 zone defense after her team's four-point win.
"I think it's definitely their 2-3 defense," Yaeger said when asked what keeps Prescott from playing its best against the Tigers."
"I agree with that, but I also think that our inability to play defense and rebound hurt us," senior co-captain Allie Murphy added.
They're both right. The Tigers' doggedness kept the co-leaders of the Middle Border Conference from ending the game early, but they also benefited from Prescott's lacking defense and rebounding.
The Cardinals largest first-half lead came before the 11-minute mark when Allie Murphy hit Prescott's fourth 3 of the game, giving Prescott a 14-4 lead. But the Tigers created their first large run of the night by making strong basket cuts to break down Prescott's 2-3 zone midway through the first half.
Prescott switched to man-to-man defense after New Richmond took an 18-17 lead with three minutes, 55 seconds to go in the half. Prescott's head coach Ron Murphy said he thought switching to a man defense would benefit the Cardinals' desired fast pace, and he was right.
The Cardinals followed up their defensive switch with a 9-2 run to close the half and were able to force four Tiger turnovers before the break.
The Tigers held Yaeger to four points until the final four minutes of the first half when the Prescott center added six points to her personal total. Yaeger finished with 16 points to lead all scorers in her team's 16th win of the season.
Prescott began the second half similarly to how they started the game — by shooting lights out from beyond the arc. Murphy, Tori Benck and Mckenna Johnson all hit 3s in the first five minutes of the second half, and those nine points were critical for the Cardinals down the stretch.
Prescott led by as much as 15 points in the second half, but watched that lead decrease to four points in the final minute and a half when the Cardinals shot 0-for-8 from the charity stripe and gave up a few looks to the Tigers who scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the game.
Barb Kling recorded 14 points for the Tigers, one of which came in crunch time, led her team in scoring and was a problem for the Cardinals all night.
However, "a win is a win" was a mantra applicable to the Cardinals' night as they notched their 16th win of the season by holding on in the final minutes of the game. This is the first season the Cardinals have recorded 16 wins on the year since the 2010-11 campaign when the Cardinals finished with a 16-8 record.
Friday night, like Prescott's losses to Amery and Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, was a reminder that there's still more work to be done if the Cardinals want to end their season at the Kohl Center in March.
"I think it was a good thing for us," Murphy said when asked about the Cardinals' reaction to their two losses to Amery and G-E-T.
"It opened our eyes," Yaeger added.
"Yes, we do have more work to do, and we're not unbeatable yet," Murphy said. "There's still some things to work on."
Prescott will travel to Ellsworth (5-14, 2-10) on Monday, Feb. 11.
Scoring for Prescott: Yaeger 16; Bella Lenz 13; Murphy 11; Kaelyn Lewis 4; Benck, Johnson 3; KiKi Carey, Nicole Dalman 1.
OTHER AREA SCORES:
St. Croix Central 44, Ellsworth 28
Glenwood City 46, Elmwood/Plum City 37
Boyceville 45, Spring Valley 37