Vikings unable to hang onto lead, fall to Whittemore-Prescott

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Posen’s Riley Krajniak (20) dribbles a ball past Whittemore-Prescott defender Cheyenne Lewis (13) during the first quarter of a North Star League girls basketball game on Tuesday at Posen High School.

POSEN — For the first half of Tuesday’s North Star League opener against Whittemore-Prescott, the Posen girls basketball team was in control and looked to have shaken off the rust from a season-opening loss on Monday.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they made mistakes down the stretch, once again had trouble rebounding and getting to loose balls which led to them giving up seven point lead in the final six minutes as the Cardinals came storming back to stun Posen by a final of 50-45.

Brooke Ciarkowski hit two more free-throws with two and a half minutes to play to put Posen up 43-41 and Whittemore eventually took the lead, 44-43, after Skylar Swanson split a pair of free-throws and Cheyenne Lewis made a jumper.

Elizabeth Romel made a pair of free-throws on Posen’s next possession to put the Vikings ahead by one with 1:29 to play, but Posen ran into problems from there. The Cardinals scored the final six points to close out the game as Posen committed costly turnovers in the final minute and failed to get any shots off.

“It’s just really tough because we pretty much had this game in the bag with a few minutes to go. We decided to take some bad shots, we couldn’t handle a rebound and you just can’t do that,” Posen coach Karl Momrik said. “We let Whittemore get back in the game and give them credit, they took it from us. We basically just gave that one away tonight.”

Unlike Monday’s game, the Vikings started the game off much better and led 15-6 after one quarter.

Every time it looked like Posen was going to start pulling away, Whittemore had an answer and responded, refusing to let the game get too far out of reach. The Cardinals cut the Vikings lead to four at halftime when Laila Bell nailed a three to beat the buzzer and Posen held a 26-22 lead at the break.

The Cardinals carried momentum into the second half and began the third quarter strong as they scored six of the first seven points, including four from Bell as Whittemore took its first lead of the night, 28-27, two minutes into the period.

The rest of the third quarter was a back-and-forth battle that featured five lead changes before the two teams entered the fourth quarter deadlocked at 33.

Ciarkowski put the Vikings on her back in the early stages of the fourth quarter as she scored the first six points with her aggressiveness, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.

When Ciarkowski got to the line, she made the most of her chances, going 4-for-4 to help Posen extend the lead and a bucket from Madison Menzel gave the Vikings an eight point lead with six minutes to play in the game.

Ciarkowski scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

From there, the wheels fell off for Posen and Whittemore made the home team pay. A basket from Swanson and back-to-back three-pointers from Lexi Hart brought the Cardinals right back and the score was tied at 41 with 2:45 to play.

Hart scored all of her eight points in the final quarter. Despite Posen shutting down Bell–who led Whittemore with 17 points–in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals were more aggressive on the boards and turned second and third-chance opportunities into baskets.

“When we got our hands on a rebound and we have a lead, you can’t travel or let someone else take it out of your hands and that’s what we did tonight,” Momrik said. “We didn’t secure the ball and Whittemore just came and took the game away from us. So it’s back to the drawing board. It’s very frustrating. We have to regroup now, this is very tough to take.”

Posen falls to 0-2 overall to begin the year and is 0-1 in NSL play.

The Vikings will host Onaway on Thursday.

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free-throws made/ Free-throws attempted/Total points

WHITTEMORE-PRESCOTT (50): L. Bell, 6 3-6 17; C. Lewis, 3 0-1 6; S. Swanson, 4 3-6 11; L. Hart, 3 0-2 8; B. Listeman, 1 0-0 2; S. Santiago, 1 0-0 2; M. Broughton, 2 0-2 4.

POSEN (45): M. Kamyszek, 1 0-0 2; R. Krajniak, 2 0-0 6; A. Eagling, 1 0-0 2; E. Romel, 0 3-4 3; B. Ciarkowski, 5 9-12 20; M. Menzel, 6 0-2 12.