The Alpena girls basketball team had Parents Night on Tuesday, celebrating the graduating seniors Megan Barkley, Ami Milligan, Caten Teff and Christina Kollien.
It's a good thing then that they pulled together an impressive come-from-behind 36-30 victory against the Cheboygan in the fourth quarter after trailing for the first three periods.
Christina Kollien led Alpena with 21 points.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Christina Kollien, right, dribbles the ball upcourt during the first half of a girls basketball game on Tuesday at Alpena High School. Kollien scored 21 points in Alpena’s 36-30 win.
"My teammates were so big in tonight's game. They got me the ball when I needed it, set up plays and helped me get into scoring position time and time again. I can't stress how important they were tonight," Kollien said.
The first quarter saw a very slow start for both teams.
Alpena's offense slowed to a crawl as Cheboygan pulled ahead slowly early. Kollien snuck in a field goal with two and a half minutes left in the quarter, but Cheboygan's Holly Scolovitch hit a field goal with eight seconds left to keep the Chiefs up 7-4.
The second quarter saw a similar slow pace. Alpena's offense opened up a little as its zone defense kept Cheboygan passing around the perimeter. Milligan was an especially avid defender as was Lizzy Trelfa.
Kollien got into her groove in the second quarter, hitting another field goal and a three pointer to bring the game to a 9-9 tie.
The Chiefs were able to answer back with two Jessica Smith free throws. The game became a back-and-forth scoring marathon from there. Alpena ran into some foul trouble, giving the Chiefs three double-shot free throw chances.
Luckily for the Wildcats, Cheboygan only hit four of the six shots and led 17-13 at the half.
The third quarter saw both teams continue to struggle offensively. Both teams played solid defense and forced a lot of jump balls in crucial situations. Alpena's Emma Strong was particularly effective at fighting for the ball when it was needed most.
Alpena continued to present the Chiefs with free throw situations in the third. The Chiefs hit three of four in the third quarter while Macey Charbeneau and Socolovitch hit a field goal each.
Lizzy Trelfa contributed her first basket of the night, while Kollien hit a field goal and a trey to narrow Cheboygan's lead to 24-20 after three quarters.
The Chiefs fell apart in the fourth quarter against a seemingly renewed Alpena offense.
Kollien picked up her third triple of the night 30 seconds into the period, stole the ball and scored a field goal five seconds later to put Alpena ahead 25-24.
The lead was strengthened by Strong and Trelfa field goals giving Alpena a 29-24 lead with five minutes left.
Alpena shifted to a more aggressive, man-to-man defense that forced a lot of missed passes and stolen balls. Cheboygan struggled to hit the right player time and again as the ball flew out of bounds under its basket and into the hands of the Wildcats.
The Chiefs finally got on the board with four minutes to play off a Socolovitch field goal. Bridget Blaskowski then hit a trey and a free throw to narrow the lead to 33-30.
Continued strong play from Kollien kept the Chiefs at bay as she scored one more field goal and two free throw shots.
"I really feel like our team's on a roll right now. At the beginning of the season we didn't know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. Now that we know how each other plays we know how to help each other out in ways that benefit the team," Kollien said.
The Alpena JV team also came ahead with a win, 32-25. Jordan Modrzynski lead with eight points while Rachel Zolnierek and Mykayla Price each scored six points.
Alpena (36): M. Barkley 1-0-1-2: E. Strong 2-0-0-4: A. Milligan 2-0-0-4: C. Teff 0-1-2-1: L. Trelfa 2-0-0-4: C. Kollien 8-2-3-21.
Cheboygan (30): H. Socolovitch 4-0-0-8: B. Blaskowski 2-1-2-6: M. Charboneau 1-1-2-3: B. Hancock 1-3-4-5: J. Smith 0-2-2-2: S. Buhr 1-0-0-2: M. Rozek 0-1-2-1: C. McNeil 1-1-2-3.