Wildcats come up short against Esky in high scoring contest

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Maddie Voltz (12) backs into Escanaba defender Taylor Ray (24) during the second quarter of a girls basketball game on Friday at Alpena High School.

The Alpena High girls basketball team put together a solid performance to open the new year.

The Wildcats got off to another fast start, found ways to score and were hot from beyond the three point line,

But in the end the result was all too familiar as Alpena failed to put together a complete four quarters of solid basketball, dropping its fourth consecutive game in a 68-58 loss to Escanaba.

“We did better tonight. Escanaba started off in a zone and we shot them out of the zone. We just need someone to step up at the end of games. We need someone to step up and take charge and we haven’t found that person yet,” Alpena coach Erin Andrews said. “We had one tough quarter and we just have to come out and play for 32 minutes.”

The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-4 lead after threes from Abbie Funk and Mollie Girard.

Alpena held onto a lead throughout the quarter, but went cold late and the Eskymos took advantage late. They scored eight straight to take a 17-14 lead before the Wildcats responded with the final three points of the quarter. Anna Young got a shot to fall and was fouled as she completed the three point play to tie the game after one quarter.

The Eskymos opened the second quarter scoring the first 10 points to take a double-digit lead, but Alpena started to heat up from distance late in the first half. The Wildcats hit six of their eight threes for the game in the first half.

All four of Alpena’s field goals in the second quarter came on shots from beyond the three point line as Girard nailed a pair of threes, Allie Funk hit a triple and Macy Dickinson beat the buzzer with a three to pull the Wildcats to within one as they trailed 31-30 at the break.

“We shot a lot of three’s over break. I know that this is a good three point shooting team and we just need to get more looks from outside the arc and then make them and then rebound them if we don’t make them. That’s the big thing, we need more offensive rebounds and we need to finish under the basket,” Andrews said. “It was actually perfect playing Escanaba tonight, because they run the same zone that the Traverse Cities run and we’re looking to them next. We always love to beat a Traverse City team.”

The turning point in the game came in the third quarter as the Wildcats suffered a major letdown. They were held to just eight points and the Eskymos found ways to score and took a 47-38 lead after three led by the duo of Nicole Kamin and Lexi Chaillier who combined for all but two of Escanaba’s 16 third quarter points.

Chaillier scored a game-high 19 points on the night and Kamin added 18 points. Taylor Ray added 12 points and Aubrey Weber chipped in with 10 points for the Eskymos.

Escanaba came out and scored two of the first three baskets of fourth quarter and Andrews called a timeout to fire up her team as they trailed 51-40 with 7:08 to play.

The Wildcats responded and began quickly chipping away at the lead.

Two successful trips to the charity stripe resulted in four points and a three from Abbie Funk cut the lead to four before Escanaba added two more baskets to push the lead back to eight.

Alpena got going midway through the fourth, scoring eight straight to tie the game 55-55 with just over three minutes to play as Abbie Funk hit another three and Allie DeRocher cashed in on a three point play.

Kamin got a basket to go to give the Eskymos a 57-55 lead, but Alpena took the ball back down the floor and Abbie Funk got a basket to go and cashed in on the free throw attempt to give the Wildcats a 58-57 lead with three 3:08 to play.

Abbie Funk led Alpena with 12 points, Girard finished with 11 points, Allie Funk collected eight points, DeRocher added seven points and Jade Schultz and Maddie Voltz each chipped in with six points apiece.

“Our theme this year has been believe. We believe that this is a good basketball team and we believe in these girls and these girls just need to believe in themselves,” Andrews said. “I have all of these softball players and soccer players that are great at those sports and I just need them to be great at this sport because they are great athletes, they just need to believe that they can do it.”

After taking the lead, the game ended on a sour note for the Wildcats as they were unable to score a basket the remainder of the game and Escanaba closed the game out by scoring the final 11 points.

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

ESCANABA (68): M. Monkevich, 2 0-0 4; N. Kamin, 4 10-14 18; P. Chaillier, 2 0-0 4; L. Chaillier, 5 7-10 19; K. Wilson, 0 1-4 1; A. Weber, 4 2-2 10; T. Ray, 3 6-7 12.

ALPENA (58): A. DeRocher, 2 3-4 7; M. Girard, 4 0-2 11; M. Dickinson, 1 0-0 3; J. Schultz, 2 2-2 6; M. Voltz, 3 0-0 6; Abbie Funk, 4 1-1 12; Allie Funk, 2 3-4 8; A. Young, 1 1-1 3; T. Baker, 1 0-0 2.