The Alpena girls basketball team lined up a game with Saginaw Nouvel on Friday for the first time since 2006.
In spite of some solid play in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats came up empty ended in a tough 57-23 loss.
Nouvel struck quickly and the Panthers took firm control of the game early, going on an eight-point scoring run that left the Wildcats struggling to catch up.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Ami Milligan (13) moves down the court past Saginaw Nouvel defender Taylor Hengensbach during the first half of a girls basketball game Friday at Alpena High School.
Alpena did a good job of snatching rebounds but its offense often seemed rushed with too many missed passes.
"This will be a good run up for us against Traverse City West and Petoskey in the upcoming weeks. It's a great way to test our abilities," Alpena coach Jenny Poli said.
Kollien was able to hit two quick field goals to take the game to 12-6 with three minutes left, but McInerney's strong play quickly pushed the game to 18-6. Caten Teff ended the quarter with two free throws to narrow the lead to 18-8.
The Wildcats (4-9, 3-5 Big North) then ran into huge troubles in the second quarter as their offense struggled to mount successful runs. They pushed into their territory frequently but the ball just wouldn't drop.
They did a solid job on defense but lost many rebounds under the Panthers' hoop as they pushed further and further into the lead.
Alpena saw some strong defensive play from Ami Milligan and Lizzy Trelfa especially with rebounding. They also did a good job at forcing jump balls, which often worked out in their favor.
In the end, the Wildcats weren't able to score a basket all period, scoring their only points of the quarter off two Teff free throws to end the half down 34-10.
The third quarter saw increased offensive effectiveness from Alpena.Nouvel's Taylor Hengensbach scored first but Kollien answered 20 seconds later. Trelfa then hit a free throw to pull Alpena to 36-13.
Strong defense by the 'Cats helped them hold the Panthers scoreless for over two minutes, thanks to strong defense from players like Megan Barkley and Lexi Smith.
The Panthers punched out a few field goals from McInerney and Laurel Jacqmain but were then held scoreless for another three minutes.
The Panthers led 47-18 after three quarters.
The solid offensive pressure Alpena built up began to fade a little in the fourth but they did a better job at shutting down the Panthers offensively, holding them to 10 points.
The Wildcats moved the ball well, but still had a hard time getting shots to drop. Barkley hit a trey late in the quarter while Smith and Teff hit a free throw a piece.
"I think we did pretty well offensively and defensively, especially looking inside for the post. But Alpena is always a really aggressive and scrappy team. That's something you can always count on from them," Panthers coach Kris Hengesbach said.
Alpena hosts Traverse City West on Monday.
The Alpena JV team lost 56-31. Top scorers were Morgan Allen with nine points and Rachel Zolnierek with six.
Alpena's freshman team beat Saginaw in a tight 38-34 game that saw Rachael Barkley score eight points while Chloe Ferguson and Mary Schimmel each scored six points. The freshman now have a 10-1 record.
Saginaw (57): P. Albito 2-0-0-4: A. Joynt 3-0-0-6: C. Nisula 1-0-0-2: L. Jacqmain 4-3-3-11: L. Stroebel 1-0-0-2: R. McInerney 7-1-3-15: M. Fulgencio 1-0-2-2: N. Buckingham 1-1-2-3: T. Hengesbach 3-0-0-6: S. Sawyer 1-4-4-6.
Alpena (23): M. Barkley 1-0-0-3: L. Smith 0-1-2-1: K. Lay 1-0-0-2: A. Milligan 1-0-0-2: C. Teff 0-5-7-5: A. hatch 0-1-2-1: L. Trelfa 0-1-2-1: C. Kollien 4-0-1-8.