For the first time in over a month, the Alpena Community College women's basketball team had reason to celebrate after a game.
Despite a tough effort from an undermanned Kirtland squad, the Lumberjacks topped the Firebirds 59-44 at Park Arena. The win broke a three-game losing streak for ACC and gave the Lumberjacks their first MCAA Eastern Conference win of the season.
Whitney Frazier scored 16 points for ACC (4-6, 1-2 MCCAA Eastern) and the Ashleigh Monticello added 12 as the Lumberjacks contended with Kirtland until the just after the midway point of the second half when ACC finally put the game away.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Amy Nowak (32) shoots while being defended by Kirtland’s Tabitha Kibby (15) during the first half of a women’s basketball game on Saturday at Park Arena.
It's a win, that's all I can say. We've still got to fine-tune some things, but they did well, started to talk a little bit more," ACC coach Bobby Allen said. "There's stuff we still need to work on in practice and we just need to execute a little bit better."
Playing with just five players, Kirtland gave the Lumberjacks all they could handle for as long as they could. The Firebirds trailed 30-22 at halftime and trailed by 10 earlier in the second half. Still Kirtland found ways to keep the game close and cut ACC's lead to two, 37-35, with 12:36 left. Near the midway point of the half, a pair of buckets pulled Kirtland to within three, 42-39.
Monticello and the Lumberjacks took over from there as Monticello drilled two treys as part of a 8-0 burst which put ACC ahead 50-39. Kirtland might have been able to keep up, but struggled at the free throw line. The Firebirds shot just 9-of-23 from the charity stripe for the game and 2-of-14 in the second half.
Allen was pleased to see Monticello step up late in the game after trying to set up her teammates for most of the game. Eleven of her points came in the second half, including three three-pointers in a four-minute span.
"She started making some threes and everybody else fed off that," Allen said. "That's just her, she cares about other people instead of herself. She has to be a little bit selfish every now and then and I need her to shoot those shots."
Kirtland kept pace with ACC throughout the first half and took a brief lead before ACC put together a 13-1 run late in the period to take a 19-12 lead. The Firebirds drew a lot of contact in the paint and relied on the post game of Olivia Smith to keep them in the game.
Smith paced Kirtland with 16 points and Sarah Lueck added 15.
The Firebirds withstood ACC's early run in the first half and closed the gap to three, 21-18, with five minutes left thanks to a basket from Smith. ACC's depth ultimately proved to be the difference though as Courtney Holmes hit two treys in a span of 42 seconds to extend ACC's lead to 27-18.
ACC plays at Schoolcraft on Wednesday and returns home on Saturday to host Henry Ford on Saturday.
"I just hope my girls go down there (on Wednesday) and play like they played today," Allen said.
ALPENA (59): A. Nowak 1 0-0 2; W. Frazier 7 0-0 16; E. Nowak 1 1-2 3; S. Bischoff 4 1-2 9; S. Kolb 1 0-0 3; M. Myers 1 0-0 2; C. Holmes 2 0-0 6; A. Monticello 4 1-2 12; K. Shepard 1 0-0 2; M. Barkley 2 0-0 4.
KIRTLAND (44): T. Kibby 0 3-6 3; O. Smith 6 4-9 16; E. Buchner 2 0-3 4; J. Hamlin 6 1-3 15; S. Lueck 2 1-4 6.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.