Down to the wire

By JAMES

ANDERSEN

News Sports Editor

PELLSTON-The Posen girls basketball team gave all that it could on Tuesday during a Class D regional semifinal in Pellston.

Newberry had just a little more to give.

Capitalizing on Posen’s foul trouble, the Indians edged the Vikings 58-54 in overtime and advance to a regional final matchup with Pickford on Thursday.

Both sides played to a 52-52 tie at the end of regulation and with an extra four minutes to play, the Indians outscored Posen 6-2. Bridget Stoetzer scored four points in overtime for Newberry.

Stoetzer, who led the Indians with 21 points, sank two free throws with 3:14 left and followed up with a basket with 1:33 to go. Posen’s only bucket in overtime came from Jolene Reese with 1:21 left to make it 56-54, but Newberry iced the game a short time later after Taylor Bryant hit two free throws with 51 seconds left.

It was a solid effort, but ultimately a disappointing ending for the Vikings (21-3), who ran into foul trouble in the second half and had trouble offensively as a result. Posen led by four with four minutes left in regulation, but by the start of overtime the Vikings were without starters Sam Lenard and Cami LaTulip after they fouled out.

“It was one heck of a game. The foul trouble ended up killing us. That’s Newberry’s game: getting you in foul trouble by taking the ball to the basket,” Posen coach Karl Momrik said. “It ended up getting to us at the end. We had to go to the bench and we were asking players to do things they’re not accustomed to doing and it’s very difficult.”

Indeed the Indians played that sort of game to perfection, particularly in the second half. Newberry was 19-for-29 from the charity stripe for the game compared to just 7-for-11 for the Vikings. Free throws paid off for the Indians late when Bryant was sent to the line twice in the final two minutes of regulation. She missed the first pair of shots, but drained the next two to tie the game 52-52.

Posen got a break in the closing seconds of regulation when Bryant’s outlet pass for Natalie Beaulieu went out of bounds and Posen got the ball back. The Vikings couldn’t get a shot off in the final seconds and also missed a potential winning free throw with 26 seconds left.

The Vikings led by six at two different times in the third quarter, but the Indians were able to keep up as Posen racked up fouls, eight of them in all during the period.

A stellar individual effort by Jenna Hincka put Posen ahead in the fourth quarter. Hincka scored Posen’s first 13 points in the quarter, including a triple and another basket that put Posen ahead 48-44 with 3:57 to go.

“Give a lot of credit to Posen and their coaching staff, that was a really good basketball team we played tonight; they don’t go 21-2 by luck, that’s a good team,” Newberry coach Fred Bryant said.

Playing in the final game of her five-year varsity career, Hincka led all scorers with 25 points and had success all night driving the baseline for key buckets when Posen needed them. During the overtime period, she appeared to hurt her ankle going up for a rebound, but walked it off and stayed in the game.

Posen led 24-21 at halftime and pushed the lead to 31-25 midway through the third quarter after a 7-0 run. Newberry refused to go away however and eventually took a 36-35 lead with 1:31 left. With Stoetzer driving inside, the Indians were able to draw contact by also made some big shots to keep things close. A triple from Beaulieu with 2:48 left pulled Newberry to within three and Megan Grigg and Stoetzer later followed with baskets to give the Indians their first lead since the game’s first basket.

We made a couple adjustments at halftime. Putting Stoetzer in the middle against their 1-2-2 zone I thought opened some things up for us, because we were able to get the ball down low and get some of their bigs in foul trouble,” Bryant said. “I think that was the turning point in the game.”

Bryant had 12 points for Newberry and Beaulieu and Kelsey Huffman each had nine.

Lenard added 10 points for Posen and Brooke Ciarkowski had nine.

By contrast, the Vikings had a much easier time in the first half. Using its patented defensive press, the Vikings turned up the heat on Newberry and raced out to a 14-7 lead to open the game and led 16-10 after the first quarter.

Newberry threatened in the second quarter, pulling to within one two different times, but Posen maintained the lead. The Indians helped their cause by going 5-for-8 at the free throw line.

A basket by Reese in the final minute gave Posen a 24-21 lead at the break.

Pickford easily defeated Mackinaw City 67-22 in Tuesday’s first semifinal

NEWBERRY (58): B. Stoetzer 6 9-10 21; K. Huffman 3 0-2 9; M. Grigg 2 3-3 7; A. Groenhout 2 0-0 4; T. Bryant 1 6-12 8; N. Beaulieu 3 1-2 9.

POSEN (54): S. Lenard 4 2-2 10; J. Hincka 10 4-6 25; C. LaTulip 2 0-0 4; B. Ciarkowski 4 1-2 9; K. Lenard 1 0-0 2; J. Reese 2 0-0 4; L. Randall 0 0-1 0.