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An up-and-down night

Wildcats can’t quite recover from slow start in loss to Sault

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Elyse Clarke (3) is stripped of the ball by Sault Ste. Marie’s Lilly Alaspa (14) during the first half of a girls basketball game on Monday at Alpena High School. Also pictured on the play are Sault’s Claire Erickson (32) and Jordan Scott (10) and Alpena’s Macy Dickinson.

The Alpena High girls basketball team took the good with the bad on Monday.

The good? A fast start to the second half offensively and defensive adjustments that allowed Alpena to control play.

The bad? A slow start where anything that could go wrong did and a halftime deficit that proved too big to recover from in an eventual 58-32 loss to Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault (17-1) jumped out to a 10-1 lead to begin the game and was off to the races, repeatedly beating Alpena (10-8) down the floor and and making the most of its opportunities. The Blue Devils led 18-7 after one quarter and ended the first half on a 19-0 run for a 39-8 halftime lead.

Lilly Alaspa scored 10 points, Claire Erickson had nine and Lilli Kelgar and Julia Beaumont each had eight for the Blue Devils, who had all but one player score in the win and spread the wealth around offensively. Seven different Sault players scored at least five points in the victory.

A 31-point halftime deficit is a lot to overcome, but the Wildcats did their best after making some halftime adjustments.

“The second half, we made some adjustments at halftime just defensively that they listened to and obviously frustrated them,” Alpena coach Erin Andrews said. “We just need to play hard for the whole 32 minutes.”

After having to constantly rotate lineups in the first half due to foul trouble, the Wildcats came out rejuvenated with its starters back in for the second half. The difference was apparent immediately as junior guard Allie DeRocher forced a pair of turnovers and scored twice in the first two minutes of play.

DeRocher and Jade Schultz led Alpena with nine points each.

“She played the top part in that zone and she’s able to read where the ball is going, so she can see a couple passes ahead,” Andrews said of DeRocher. “She knew right where it was coming from and was able to jump the passing lane. I need her to do that all time.”

Improved defensive play from the Wildcats frustrated Sault and Alpena took advantage. The Blue Devils missed several wide open chances and Alpena drew more contact, going 6-for-8 from the free throw line in the third quarter.

“(At halftime we said), ‘Now we’re starting from this point, this is what we need to do’ and they went out and (made adjustments),” Andrews said.

Alpena ultimately outscored Sault 14-2 in the third quarter, cutting the lead down to 41-22 after 24 minutes.

The Blue Devils may have been temporarily stunned in the third quarter, but they recovered with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take control of the game.

The Wildcats wrap up the regular season on Thursday at Traverse City Central.

Alpena’s JV team lost to the Blue Devils 59-17. Kameron Schultz led Alpena with seven points and Mya Klimczak had six.

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BOX SCORE: Field Goals Made/Free Throws Made/Free Throws Attempted/Total Points

SAULT STE. MARIE (58): H. Knowles 1 2-2 5; J. Scott 1 0-0 3; L. Alaspa 3 4-6 10; L. Kelgar 3 2-2 8; J. Haller 2 0-0 5; F. Wojnaroski 1 0-0 2; C. Erickson 3 3-4 9; A. DeMolen 1 0-0 2; J. Beaumont 3 2-2 8; E. McLean 3 0-0 6.

ALPENA (32): A. DeRocher 4 1-2 9; M. Dickinson 1 2-2 4; T. Baker 0 2-2 2; J. Schultz 2 5-6 9; J. Leeck 2 1-2 5; A. Urlaub 1 0-1 2; A. Trelfa 0 1-2 1.

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