SOMERSET, Wis. — Somerset girls’ basketball coach Cory Lindenberg called last Tuesday’s 49-39 victory at River Falls one of his favorite games to be a part of.
The Spartans entered the game down two starters, and saw two others get in early foul trouble. But with sophomore Claire Anderson making her first varsity start, and reserves Mia Olson, Shealyn Struemke and Addie McGeehan seeing significant minutes off the bench for probably the first time in their careers, the Spartans went into halftime with a 29-23 lead, then held the Wildcats to just 16 second-half points for a 10-point win.
“We were originally hoping to play them in short, quick bursts, but two starters — Sophie Rivard and Dani Schachtner — got into foul trouble in the first half with three apiece,” Lindenberg said. “Those four fought and scrapped and enabled us to go into halftime with a lead.”
Taylor Paulson handled the bulk of the scoring load in the first half and finished with 23 points while Schachtner registered the bulk of her 13 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocked shots in the second half before eventually fouling out in the final minute. Kenzie Leccia contributed seven points, eight rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocked shots in the win while Anderson, Olson, Struemke and McGeehan helped hold the Wildcats to just 24 percent shooting from the field.
“We had big contributions from those four filling in, and then Taylor and Dani shared the bulk of the scoring load — Taylor in the first half and Dani in the second half,” Lindenberg noted. “Kenzie Leccia kept the ball moving on O and defended (Keyah) Strop on D, and everyone on the team did a great job of keeping their focus on helping and supporting each other.”
Leccia and the Spartans held Strop, the Wildcats’ dynamic freshman guard, to seven points while Rachel Randleman led the Cats with 12 points in addition to seven rebounds and three assists. Jordan Schwantz finished just short of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds while Maria Vitt matched Strop with seven points.
Lindenberg said he was proud of the way his team came together for a road win over a defending Division 1 conference champion.
“It was a great, gritty win, and one of my favorite games to be a part of in terms of how well everyone in the program, from players to coaches, handled the adversity and stepped up,” he said.
The Spartans couldn’t quite carry that momentum into its home game against undefeated Unity the following day, coming out on the short end of a 72-65 decision to the Eagles. The score was tied 42-42 at the half before Unity hit its free throws down the stretch to improve to 6-0.
Schachtner had a double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds in the loss and Rivard came up one rebound short of a double-double with 17 points and nine boards while Paulson finished with 14 points. Leccia had eight points and six assists while Struemke finished with six points and 12 boards.
The Spartans, now 4-6 on the season, visited Spring Valley on Tuesday, Jan. 5 and will host St. Croix Central on Friday, Jan. 8 before a home game against Amery Monday, Jan. 11.
New Richmond wins squeaker at Altoona
The New Richmond girls’ basketball team outscored Altoona by two points in the second half and it proved to be the difference in a 43-41 victory over the Rails on Saturday, Jan. 2, in Altoona.
Brooke Blaszczyk hit 7-of-8 free throws on her way to a team-high 17 points for the Tigers and Leah DeYoung finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals while Barb Kling added seven points and nine boards.
The Tigers, now 4-1 on the season, hosted St. Croix Central Tuesday night, Jan. 5 and will visit Ellsworth Thursday, Jan. 7 before hosting seventh-ranked Hudson for a 3 p.m. game Saturday, Jan. 9.