Christina Kollien got the Alpena girls basketball team off to a good start on Thursday.
The rest of her teammates picked up where she left off.
Kollien scored 20 points and the Wildcats won their second game in a row, defeating Traverse City Central 46-38 at Alpena High School.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Lizzy Trelfa (22) puts up a shot as Traverse City Central’s Taylor Cobb, left, defends during the first half of a girls basketball game on Thursday at Alpena High School.
Kollien scored 17 of her points in the first half, but found herself double-teamed in the second half. With the game tied at 29 entering the fourth quarter, her teammates stepped up.
Ami Milligan scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter and Lizzy Trelfa added six of her 10 points in the final period.
Alpena coach Jenny Poli praised her team's effort, pointing to the Wildcats' fast start against Ogemaw Heights earlier this week as a strong sign of potential.
"Any time you beat Traverse City it's an extra victory. We knew we had it in us. Tonight we just kept going and we played hard," Poli said. "Not only did we step up, Lexi Smith out there as a freshman, she had a lot of pressure on her and she came through. She had a nice little basket and she didn't panic."
Central took the lead first in the fourth quarter, 31-29, but Alpena (4-7, 3-5 Big North) scored the next six points to take the lead for good. A free throw from Taylor Cobb pulled the Trojans to within one, 35-34 with five minutes left, but subsequent baskets from Milligan and Trelfa kept Alpena ahead for good.
The Trojans' were also hurt by an inability to hit free throws, going just 10-for-22 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats led 23-15 at the half, but couldn't get shots to fall in the third quarter. Central pushed its advantage and forced turnovers to put together a 13-2 run over the last five and a half minutes of the period to force a tie headed into the final quarter. Jesse Hiemstra capped Central's run with a basket to give the Trojans a 29-27 lead with 57 seconds left, but Emma Strong answered back with 13 seconds left to knot the game.
Cobb led the Trojans with 12 points, Hiemstra added nine and Tyler Rawlings chipped in with eight.
Kollien did a little bit of everything in the first quarter, recording 11 points and playing stellar defense. Kollien came up with a steal three different times off of the same Central play in the opening period and powered Alpena to a 13-6 lead at the end of the quarter.
"Christina wants to win. She wants to come out here and beat Traverse City, it was her last time playing Traverse City Central on her court," Poli said. "She's been up for four years, it hasn't happened and this is the first time on varsity that she's beaten Traverse City."
Despite a scoreless stretch that lasted more than six minutes, the Trojans clawed back into the game with the first six points of the second quarter. Alpena overcame its own drought to score seven straight points to stay firmly in the lead.
The Wildcats' won't have too much time to relish their win as they head to Alcona for a make-up game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
"They have a good team, they have a couple nice players. We're on a roll and we just want to keep it going," Poli said of Alcona.
Central topped the Alpena JV team 42-35. Morgan Allen led the Wildcats with 15 points and Rachel Zolnierek added eight.
The Alpena freshmen team beat Central in overtime, 43-41. Caitlynn Dzuris led the Wildcats with 10 points and Samantha Szymanski, Hailey Britton and Chloe Ferguson each had eight points. Alpena is now 9-1 on the season.
ALPENA (46): Smith 1 0-0 2; Strong 3 0-0 6; Milligan 3 2-4 8; Teff 0 0-2 0; Trelfa 4 2-5 10; Kollien 8 1-2 20.
TRAVERSE CITY CENTRAL (38): Barbera 0 0-2 0; Cobb 3 6-11 12; Bankey 1 1-2 4; Rawlings 3 1-1 8; Young 1 1-2 3; Acton 1 0-2 2; Hiemstra 4 1-2 9.