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Making the adjustments

Strong second half lifts Wildcats past Cheboygan

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena senior Taylor Baker (10) shoots over a pair of Cheboygan defenders during the second quarter of a girls basketball game on Tuesday at Alpena High School.

Tuesday’s girls basketball contest for Alpena was a tale of two halves.

The Wildcats (2-0) struggled mightily in the first two quarters, but got a spark in the third quarter and put together a strong second half to defeat Cheboygan 37-27 at Alpena High School.

Alpena couldn’t get anything going in the opening half and the Wildcats played about as poorly and as bland as they possibly could. They were held to just five first quarter points and trailed by one.

The second quarter wasn’t much better as the sloppy play continued and the Wildcats couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm and they found themselves trailing 15-9 at the break.

“The first half was a little rough, but we went into the locker room and said it was a brand new half. We were going to make adjustments because that’s what we do and I know the girls were going to make them because that’s just what they do,” Alpena coach Erin Andrews said. “We made those adjustments and they were helpful. I really thought that some of our young girls stepped up tonight and got our offense into a rhythm and that was key to our win tonight.”

Alpena came out in the second half and started to get into the rhythm it needed. The Wildcats started seeing some shots fall, including a pair of threes from Allie DeRocher who lit a spark for the Wildcats as she poured in a game-high 15 points and hit four threes on the night.

Alpena took its first lead of the game with 2:51 to play in the third when Jade Schultz converted on two shots from the charity stripe. The Wildcats never surrendered the lead and was able to close the game out strong with a solid final nine minutes of the contest.

“It was a much better second half and we’re 2-0 to start the season. Everybody is finding their role and where they need to be. We’re making adjustments as we go and that’s always a good sign that we can make adjustments and the girls are able to listen and execute,” Andrews said. “I would rather start by not making some baskets and fix what we need to early on in the season rather than waiting until later in the season.”

The Chiefs didn’t have much of a problem breaking Alpena’s press and the Chiefs capitalized on the Wildcats’ mistakes in the first two quarters as Alpena turned the ball over at a high rate and committed a ton of fouls early.

Cheboygan’s CJ Salter had the hot hand early and scored all 10 of her points in the first half, including scoring 10 of Cheboygan’s 15 first half points.

The Wildcats made the adjustments and held Salter scoreless in the second half and limited the Chiefs to just 12 points the rest of the game to come away with the win.

Along with DeRocher’s sharp shooting night and game high 15 points, Schultz added seven points and Allison Urlaub and Jenna Leeck lit a spark off the bench combining for seven points.

“We talked in the locker room about how it was flat out there. Everyone was just flat, there was no excitement on the bench or on the floor and that needs to change, that can’t happen. Our bench needs to be the first line of support and one they get into it and the court gets into it, then the people in the stands get into it and we get fired up,” Andrews said. “We finished the game strong which is important because now we open Big North Conference play on Thursday when we host Gaylord and they (Gaylord) beat Cheboygan by five last week. The girls like having a game plan, so we’ll go over a game plan tomorrow and we have some smart kids on this team and they like to think about things ahead of time. I think that we’re off to a good start and this is a really good group of kids and it’s been fun and that always makes it easy when it’s fun to come to the gym.”

The Alpena JV team also defeated Cheboygan, winning by a score of 42-31.

Lanie Morgan led the way with 13 points and Kameron Schultz and Megan Dubie each chipped in with seven points apiece.

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

ALPENA (37): A. DeRocher, 5 1-4 15; M. Dickinson, 1 0-0 3; A. Jones, 1 0-0 2; J. Leeck, 1 1-2 3; J. Schultz, 2 3-4 7; A. Trelfa, 0 1-2 1; A. Urlaub, 1 2-3 4; A. Young, 1 0-2 2.

CHEBOYGAN (27): O. Chamberlain, 1 0-0 2; C. Burton, 1 0-0 2; K. Burt, 2 1-2 5; C. Salter, 3 2-8 10; I. Burh, 0 6-9 6; J. Young, 1 0-0 2.

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