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Missed opportunities hurt Wildcats in loss to Gaylord

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena sophomore Lanie Morgan (10) looks to pass while being defended by Gaylord’s Kennedy Neff (15) and Meghan Keen (4) during the second quarter of a Big North Conference girls basketball game on Tuesday at Alpena High School.

After picking up its first victory of the season, the Alpena High girls basketball team shifted its attention on trying to earn their first Big North Conference win of the year.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, missed opportunities and foul trouble late in the game doomed Alpena in a 53-42 loss to Gaylord on Tuesday at Alpena High School.

“We just never got the momentum to swing in our favor. I told the girls in the locker room after the game that we need to play for all 32 minutes,” Alpena head coach Erin Andrews said. “I thought we had a good first quarter and an average second quarter, then in the second half we kind of lost it. We need to be able to win every single quarter.”

The Wildcats (1-4, 0-3 BNC) put together a solid first half of basketball as both teams went back and forth throughout the first two quarters.

The teams were tied at 12 after one quarter and the Blue Devils (2-2, 1-2 BNC) ran into foul trouble midway through the second quarter.

Alpena was unable to take advantage of being in the bonus for the final 4:24 in the first half, attempted just three foul shots during that stretch and trailed 26-22 at the break.

“The end of the second quarter it seemed like the energy was going out of the gym. The crowd was quiet, our bench was quiet, the floor kind of got quiet so in the locker room I just told the girls that they needed to bring their own energy back onto the court to start the second half and celebrate every point, every foul and every conversion,” Andrews said. “I thought we came out with energy early in the third quarter, but we have to do it throughout the entire third quarter and keep the same intensity and energy throughout all four quarters.”

The Wildcats tied the game back up 28-28 after Allie DeRocher got a layup to go and converted the and-one opportunity.

DeRocher poured in 17 points for the second consecutive night to lead all scorers, but it wasn’t enough as the Blue Devils and Alexis Kozlowski began to take over late in the third quarter.

Kozlowski scored eight points in the third quarter, including the final six points to give Gaylord a 40-33 lead heading to the fourth.

Kozlowski added five more points in the fourth quarter as 13 of her team-high 16 points came in a big second half.

The Wildcats got into the foul trouble early in the fourth quarter and the Blue Devils took advantage by getting to the free-throw line. They went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final seven minutes of the game.

Despite Alpena’s defense doing all it could to create turnovers in the late stages of the third quarter and early in the fourth, it was the Wildcats offense that was stagnant and the home team failed to capitalize on opportunities they had.

Gaylord switched to a 1-3-1 defense and it gave Alpena problems as the Wildcats were unable to take care of the basketball which led to easy points for Kozlowski and the rest of the Blue Devils.

“They switched into that 1-3-1 and we couldn’t get our offense started,” Andrews said. “We struggled to reverse the ball out of the corner and some of our younger girls just needed to make adjustments and settle in. we haven’t seen that yet this year and it’s definitely something we’ll need to work on.”

At times, Alpena connected on open looks, but the Wildcats showed a bit of panic with the ball underneath the basket and missed several easy looks down the stretch.

“We rush our shots under the basket instead of just laying it in,” Andrews said. “It’s things that will eventually come with playing more. We have to just keep learning and adjusting on the fly.”

Along with DeRocher’s 17 points, Allison Urlaub and Reese Wisniewski each chipped in with seven points in the losing effort.

Molly Kinser added 12 points for the Blue Devils and Avery Parked finished with eight points.

Alpena will travel to Traverse City Central on Thursday to take on the Trojans as the Wildcats search for their first BNC victory.

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

GAYLORD (53): E. Ross, 0 2-2 2; A. Kozlowski, 5 6-12 16; M. Keen, 2 0-0 4; K. Neff, 2 0-0 5; A. Radulski, 0 2-2 2; M. Kinser, 4 2-2 12; K. Mumford, 1 2-4 4; A. Parker, 3 2-2 8.

ALPENA (42): A. DeRocher, 5 4-7 17; A. Urlaub, 2 2-2 7; J. Leeck, 1 0-0 2; M. Wisniewski, 0 1-2 1; R. Wisniewski, 3 0-0 7; A. Dubey, 1 0-0 3; M. Dubie, 2 1-1 5.

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