Pats complete Dubois County sweep in victoryDecember 13, 2017
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — A strange scene unfolded toward the end of the second quarter which served as an encapsulating moment for not only the game against Heritage Hills, but perhaps for Southridge’s entire season up to this point.
Southridge junior guard Macie Marley was bringing the ball up with less than a minute left, and found herself facing Heritage Hills senior center Abby Wahl, a matchup resembling David vs. Goliath.
Unable to take Wahl off the dribble, Marley tried to pass the ball to freshman guard Monica Steckler, but the errant pass missed its mark and Heritage Hills was able to get off one final shot before halftime. It wouldn’t fall true, but that does not matter as much as the preceding action leading up to the shot and how it echoed a lot of themes that Southridge has been dealing with all season: outmatched, outpositioned, and outgunned.
But the Tuesday night ball game had a different kind of meaning for Heritage Hills. In addition to earning their seventh win in a row with the 47-17 victory, the Patriots (9-1, 4-0) completed the season sweep of all their hardwood rivals out of Dubois County.
“That’s really exciting and that was one of our goals,” said senior guard Kerragan Mulzer, who finished with six points and two assists. “The Dubois teams are always our rivals. So being able to beat all those (teams) is a big deal, but I don’t believe we’re done yet.”
“We’re not specifically looking for anybody, but those things just kind of happen,” Heritage Hills coach Kim Brown added. “You look back and appreciate it later. I’ll wait until the end of the season to appreciate all those things that happen as the season rolls on.”
But it was a strange game that unfolded, as Southridge (2-11, 0-5) did not initiate a lot of offense in the first half, opting to dribble and pass the ball multiple times in the half court with little shooting to show for it. It was a similar kind of style they displayed when they played the Borden Braves on Saturday. But Southridge coach Steve Rust said that was not part of the plan coming into the game.
“We’ve done that in the past,” he said. “We wanted to be patient, but we were really looking to attack. We weren’t really looking to hold the ball, not tonight.”
Planned or not, the deliberate pace the Southridge team played frustrated Heritage Hills a bit in the first half. Both teams were only able to muster 25 total points between them, with the Patriots taking a 15-9 lead going into halftime, and Brown was not happy about it.
“We didn’t do very well in the first half at all,” she said. “I think Southridge felt pretty happy with the way things looked at halftime. I think we played a much better second half. First half was just stagnant.”
Brown said the stagnant action of Southridge led to a lot of forced offense and early shots on the Patriots’ end and threw them out of their natural rhythm and schemes. So during halftime, Heritage Hills talked over a few adjustments they could make to get themselves back into an offensive flow and out of their first-half rut.
“We came out and ran a couple sets to force the movement,” said Brown. “Of course it’s predictable movement, but at least it gets girls in motion and looks from different angles.”
“We talked about cuts, screens, just doing something after you pass,” added Wahl. “Just move the ball and cut through the lane. Anything to get us open, because we were just standing and nothing was happening.”
All the added motion resulted in a second-half effort that saw Heritage Hills outscore Southridge 32-8. Wahl finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Freshman forward Rebekah Gordon had another 10 points and eight rebounds for the Patriots. Southridge junior guard Mady Neukam and freshman guard Kennedy Nalley led the Raiders with four points each.
Rust acknowledged that scoring has been a challenge for his team this season. With nine more games left to play, he and the rest of the coaching staff will continue the challenge of figuring out how to get more points out of the girls, other than Neukam, moving forward.
“Our biggest problem right now is we got to find a way to score points,” he said. “17 points in a 32-minute basketball game just doesn’t cut it.”
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