It took awhile, but the Alpena High girls basketball team managed to finish the regular season on a winning note.
The Wildcats overcame some first half struggles and pulled away from Petoskey in the second half to beat the Northmen 46-34 on Friday at Alpena High School.
The win sent Alpena's three seniors-Elizabeth Trelfa, Kendra Lay and Emma Strong-out with a win in the final home game of their high school careers.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Morgan Allen (14) drives in for a layup during the first half of a girls basketball game on Friday at Alpena High School.
"Tonight it felt great. We really played like a team tonight and I think it'll be good going into districts, it will be a good confidence booster," Trelfa said.
With the game tied 17-17 at halftime, the Wildcats (6-14) regrouped and came out aggressively in the third quarter, outscoring Petoskey 12-3. On the defensive end, the Wildcats switched to a half-court trap and forced Petoskey into situations where it rushed shots and turned the ball over.
Jenna Talbot paced Alpena with 12 points, Trelfa had 10 and Alexis Smith had nine giving Alpena a balanced scoring attack against a Petoskey squad that has struggled all season. Alpena also helped its cause at the free-throw line, making 12 of 18 shots from the charity stripe in the second half.
"I thought we were more aggressive in the second half getting to the basket and consequently we got to the free-throw line and we were able to knock some free throws down," Alpena coach Dan Arsenault said. "We had very balanced scoring tonight."
Petoskey overcame a nearly seven-minute scoreless stretch in the second half and cut Alpena's lead to six twice in the fourth quarter. The last time came with 3:50 left, but Alpena pulled away again as Smith and Talbot were among those scorers that helped extend the Wildcats' lead. The Northmen struggled with free throws, making just 2 of 10 in the final period.
Alpena's second half success made up for a slow first half. Alpena trailed 6-4 after one quarter and went almost seven minutes before it got on the scoreboard.
"The first half was a struggle offensively, for a while there I didn't know if we were going to score in the first quarter. It took awhile to get going and I credit Petoskey," Arsenault said. "They play tough defense, especially half-court man-to-man and made it tough for us."
Alpena took brief leads three times in the second quarter, but Petoskey answered back each time. A pair of free throws from Smith gave Alpena a 12-11 lead with 2:11 left. Trelfa's pair of free throws with 15 seconds left, but again Petoskey was able to answer as Hannah Cook scored with two seconds left in the half.
Cook led Petoskey with eight points and Kati Lewis added six.
Alpena is off until Wednesday when it will play in a district semifinal. The Wildcats will play either Petoskey or Traverse City Central.
"Petoskey could very well be our opponent on Wednesday. We've played Petoskey twice and been able to beat them so the kids should have confidence," Arsenault said. "We're looking forward to whoever we play."
Petoskey's JV team beat Alpena 45-37. Samantha Szymanski led Alpena with nine points, Mykayla Price added eight points and Jordan Modrzynski had six.
Alpena's freshman team lost 26-24.
ALPENA (46): J. Mainville 2 0-0 4; E. Trelfa 3 3-4 10; A. Smith 2 5-8 9; O. Cordes 0 1-2 1; A. Hatch 2 2-2 7; J. Talbot 2 8-10 12; E. Strong 0 2-2 2; M. Allen 0 1-2 1.
PETOSKEY (34): K. Daniel 1 0-0 2; A. Stinger 2 1-3 5; L. Kingma 1 2-5 4; A. Will 1 0-1 2; K. Lewis 3 0-0 6; H. Cook 4 0-2 8; A. Abram-Craig 1 0-0 2; A. Blanchard 2 1-4 5.