The Alpena girls basketball team played a tight defensive game against Traverse City West on Monday, but struggled to pick up points in a 33-15 loss.
"It was a poor performance to say the least from an offensive perspective. We just have to keep working at it until the kids start getting aggressive offensively," Alpena coach Dan Arsenault said.
Neither team put up big numbers offensively. Emma Strong led Alpena (4-8) with seven points while Kimmy Bilinski paced the Titans with 11.
Both teams utilized successful man-to-man defense that held its opponent to limited scoring opportunities.
The first quarter was over half finished when the Titans finally scored. They picked up another bucket a minute later to go up 4-0 with 2:20 left to play.
Emma Strong hit a bucket a minute later to narrow West's spread to 4-2. She hit a trey with two seconds left to give Alpena a 5-4 lead.
Jenna Talbot hit a bucket 30 seconds into the second quarter to give Alpena a 7-4 lead. It would be Alpena's largest lead of the game.
The Titans led 11-9 before outscoring the Wildcats 10-2 over the rest of the half in the largest scoring streak for either team. The Titans were successfully finding holes in Alpena's press to pick up easy buckets.
"We played well defensively for the most part, but we had a couple of lapses. There were a few times when the girls got caught watching the ball and lost track of where they were supposed to be," Arsenault said. "But, we didn't lose tonight because of our defense. We should be able to be in a game holding a team to 33."
West led 21-11 at halftime
Alpena's defense held the Titans scoreless in the third, using strong rebounding to prevent second and third scoring opportunities. It held the Titans to the perimeter and forced hard, awkward shots.
This scoring rut gave Alpena the perfect change to come within striking distance of West.
It wasn't completely unsuccessful. Alpena narrowed the lead to 21-15, but suffered a fourth quarter scoring drought that gave West the chance to break the game open.
The Wildcats pressed hard defensively against West and kept using full court pressure and traps to break up several Titans scoring chances.
However, Alpena's offensive momentum had stalled as it gave up 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the loss.
Traditional scoring lynchpins, such as Talbot and Adrianna Hatch, were held to one bucket apiece in a game where only four Alpena players scored.
"Traverse City West plays a very good man-to-man defense. They're well coached and they force tough shots. Obviously, we're not going to beat anybody scoring 15 points," Arsenault said.
Alpena plays Friday at Gaylord and travels to Traverse City West on Saturday.
The Wildcats' junior varsity team won a hard fought 44-41 game against West. Jordan Modrzynski led Alpena with eight points while Elise Leeck had seven. Chloe Ferguson and Rachael Barkley each had six.
Alpena's freshman team won in a 46-28 rout of the Titans. Jasmyn Schultz put up 26 points while Katherine Mack had six.
TRAVERSE CITY (33): K. Kreple 4 0-1 9; A. Montgomery 1-2 1; M. Ray 1 0-0 2; M. Ray 1 2-2 4; K. Bilinski 4 3-3 11; C. Drzewiecki 1 0-0 2; P. Wagner 2 0-0 4.
ALPENA (15): A. Smith 1 0-0 2; E. Strong 3 0-0 7; J. Talbot 1 2-2 4; A. Hatch 1 0-0 2.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.