The Bluejay girls have battled tough opponents to no avail in the win column recently, and they were up against it again when 11-1 Lakeland came to town. But Tuesday was a brand new day and the girls proved it by taking charge in the third quarter and putting the clamps on a 52-48 victory in the fourth.
“Everything!” MHS coach Ross Reincke said of the meaning of this outcome. “This was huge. They were 11-1 and the #1 seeded team in our region. We showed them how we can play.”
The Jays improved to 3-10 on the season, and were 1-5 in the Valley before Friday’s game with the state’s #2 D.C. Everest (14-0, 6-0).
The keys to victory in the game?
“We handled the ball well,” Reincke said. “We played well defensively. We finished, which we haven’t done for a while. We scored one point per possession, which is huge for us.”
The Bluejays also handled Lakeland’s near-constant full-court press quite well, almost never turning it over in the backcourt, and working drives and quick passing for easy baskets.
Merrill used a 7-2 run — kick-started by a Mariah Turenne three — to get up 10-6 and still led 12-10 after a quarter. The Jays bumped it to 22-16 with three minutes left in the second, before the T-Birds closed with a 7-0 rally for a 23-22 lead.
But a 17-6 third quarter, powered by three treys from Turenne, went a long way in the victory equation. The Jays were up 31-29 with three minutes left, but a three-point play on a press break lay-up from Emily Page to Maddix Bonnell to Starr Krenzke started an 8-0 run to the end of the frame. Turenne’s third three and her assist to Bonnell capped it off.
The T-Birds would get within a deceptive four at the end; the Bluejays led 51-43 with just :45 left after Morgan Marnholtz fed Krenzke for an strong lay-up. A Lakeland three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left made it look closer.
Contributions came from Turenne (16 p, 5 a, 4 st), Krenzke (15 p, 8 r), Bonnell (16 p), Pettit (2 p, 4 r) and Marnholtz (3 p).
“Starr played well,” Reincke said. “Maddix made her shots. All of them hustled. Morgan Pettit and Starr pounded the boards and Mariah hit big shots. It was a team effort.”
The Bluejay girls stumbled in a pair of Valley games last week, dropping a 64-56 contest at home on Tuesday and falling 47-29 at Wis. Rapids on Friday.
Both rival squads were at 3-3 after Friday’s play, while Merrill was at 1-5 (2-10 overall). SPASH lost to the state’s #2 D.C. Everest (13-0, 6-0).
“We’re right there,” MHS coach Ross Reincke said. “A little less turnovers and a few more shots to fall and we can win these games.
“We watched a lot of film and have corrected a lot of things that are hurting us – passes that shouldn’t be made, shots that shouldn’t be forced. It’s things that can be fixed and the girls know it. We have to learn how to close out games and then things will really turn around for us. This is only going to help us come playoff time.”
After splitting two-point quarters in the first half with SPASH, the Panthers put it away with 18-14 and 17-13 margins in second half.
“The girls played hard to the end,” Reincke said. “They have a lot of athletic forwards and guards. It was a very good game.
The Jays’ contributions came from Starr Krenzke (11 p, 8 r), Maddix Bonnell (10 p, 4 r), Mariah Turenne (10 p, 2 r), Morgan Pettit (5 r, 6 r), Hannah Marrier (9 p), Morgan Marnholtz (6 p), Chelsey LaMonica (2 p, 4 r) and Emily Page (3 p, 2 r).
MHS–FG: 23-52 (44%); 3 pt: 4-9 (44%). FT: 6-12 (50%).
Just that good
Merrill held a 12-11 edge after the first quarter of Friday’s game, but the Raiders went up 23-15 by intermission. The squads played to an 8-8 tie in the third before Rapids put it away with a 16-6 fourth frame.
“We hung in there until the fourth quarter,” Reincke said.
The Jays were hurt by 24% field goal accuracy, despite Bonnell hitting 6-of-11 shots, and 50% free throw shooting.
Production came from Krenzke (4 p, 12 r, 2 a), Bonnell 12 p), Pettit (3 p, 3 r), Marrier (3 p, Turenne (3 p), Marnholtz (2 p) and Malayna Beyer (2 p).
MHS–FG: 11-45 (24%); 3 pt: 1-5 (20%). FT: 6-12 (50%).