News Sports Editor
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Christina Kollien (34) shoots the ball while being defended by Sault’s Hayley Morley during the first half of a girls basketball game Tuesday at Alpena High School.
If there was one big thing to take away from the Alpena girls basketball team's season-opening game on Tuesday, it's that the Wildcats have a lot of room for growth.
The Wildcats fell behind 14-3 after one quarter of play and spent the rest of the night trying to catch up, ultimately losing 61-25 to Sault Ste. Marie at Alpena High School.
Going into the game, Alpena (0-1) was hoping to overcome its youth by creating shots off of strong defensive play and executing the fundamentals well. The Blue Devils did both of those things and added crisp passing, strong post play and rebounding.
"We knew it was going to be a test right out of the gate. We know they have tons of experience and good play. They were a very good JV team last year," Alpena coach Jenny Poli said. "We knew it would be a test right out, but we're young and we have a lot of learning to do."
Kylee Fitzpatrick led the Blue Devils with 14 points and Ann Diepenhorst and Jessica Parmer also reached double figures, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Parmer sent Sault's offense off and running to open the game and by the end of the first quarter, the Blue Devils held a 14-3 lead. As the Wildcats struggled to move the ball down and court and turned the ball over several times, Sault kept rolling, using a balanced scoring attack to build a 32-15 lead at the half.
"A couple lucky threes right off the top and you look up at the scoreboard and it's 8-0. We have lots of things to work on," Poli said.
Both teams shot nearly 50 percent from the free throw line with Sault going 13-for-28 and Alpena going 10-for-22.
Christina Kollien led Alpena with 10 points and Lexi Smith added seven.
Kollien started the third quarter off with a trey for Alpena, but the Wildcats' struggles continued into the second half. Diepenhorst and Fitzpatrick proved to be too much for Alpena to handle in the post and Parmer and Breanna Swan were among the Sault players who hurt the Wilcats from the outside.
Kollien was Alpena's most effective player on offense, taking the ball down the floor several times for baskets. But with the majority of Alpena's roster getting it's first taste of varsity experience, the Wildcats couldn't always get shots to fall and struggled at times to make clean passes.
We were poor from the floor. A lot of it is first game jitters. We have three people who have seen varsity floor time," Poli said. "They went to the hole hard. Lizzy (Trelfa) got in foul trouble. We just need to grow and get better."
Sault outscored Alpena 15-8 in the third quarter and 10-2 in the fourth quarter. Alpena went more than 10 minutes without a field goal, after being held to just six free throw shots during the final quarter.
The Wildcats play at Cheboygan on Thursday.
Alpena's JV team lost 43-27. Jordan Modrzynski led the Wildcats with eight points and Elise Leeck added 5.
The Wildcats' freshmen team won its season-opener, beating Sault 31-30. Rachel Barkley led Alpena with eight points, Samantha Szymanski added seven and Mykayla Price and Chloe Ferguson each had six.
SAULT STE, MARIE (61): Roque 3 1-4 7; Methner 0 2-3 2; Brosco 0 2-2 2; Krull 2 0-0 4; Parmer 4 0-0 10; Swan 2 1-2 5; Fitzpatrick 5 4-14 14; Morley 2 2-2 6; Diepenhorst 5 1-1 11
ALPENA (25): Barkley 0 1-2 1; Smith 2 3-7 7; Hatch 1 0-0 2; Trelfa 1 3-9 5; Kollien 3 3-4 10