ALPENA-A big fourth quater helped propel Traverse City West to a 37-28 victory over Alpena in the girls basketball district opener.
"Our goal was to put it all out there and play as hard as we could. I'm proud of the way the girls played tonight," Alpena coach Jenny Poli said.
West held a 21-17 lead at the end of the third but a quick Christina Kollien field goal 20 seconds in followed by a Kollien trey a minute later helped Alpena take a 22-21 lead.
West's Katie Placek hit a field goal and then a free throw within a 20 second span to take West up 24-22 two minutes into the quarter.
The spread may have been small but West pulled ahead 30-23 less than a minute later. The Titans then started to milk the clock, moving the ball around the perimeter and avoiding being fouled. They burned a minute off the clock before the Wildcats were able to foul.
Unfortunately, Alpena had to start fouling West to get the ball back quickly and although Strong hit a three pointer to narrow the lead to 32-26, it wasn't enough to stop West from hitting five out of nine free throws to win the game.
In spite of the loss, Alpena may have had a chance if it could have capitalized on its second quarter play. The Wildcats were able to hold West scoreless for the entire period by a combination of relentless defense and solid rebounding.
West opened the game on a 7-0 run. however, strong, smart play from Ami Milligan and Lizzy Trelfa were key to Alpena's success in the second quarter. They scored five of the quarter's seven points for their team.
By shutting down West completely in the second, the Cats were able to take a 13-12 lead by the end of the half.
"The fact that we held them scoreless in the second was big. It really showed that we could play hard when it was necessary. It also helped us take the lead which was a great feeling going into the second half," Poli said.
The game's final score highlighted a see-saw game that saw each team struggling to maintain dominance over the other while the second quarter showed off the "never say die" attitude the Wildcat girls have held all season.
"We've had a lot of troubles in the last few weeks with illness and injury. Sometimes we only had six girls at practice. But they came out every time they were on the court and gave their best for each practice and game," Poli said.
West will play the winner of the Gaylord and Sault Saint Marie game on Wednesday.
Traverse City West (37): J. Kalbfleisch 1-0-0-3: K. Placek 3-6-10-12: K. Kreple 3-6-8-12: L. Ellison 1-0-0-2: A. Montgomery 1-0-0-2: K. Bilinski 3-0-1-6.
Alpena (28): M. Barkley 1-0-0-2: E. Strong 1-0-0-3: A. Milligan 2-2-2-7: C. Teff 1-0-0-3: L. Trelfa 0-2-4-2: C. Kollien 5-0-0-11.