Girls basketball: Panthers scratch out win over FVL

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Clutch shots down stretch help Oconto Falls hold on

Oconto Falls’ Alexis Euclide, left, looks to get past Fox Valley Lutheran’s Bailey Jacobsen, middle, and Sara Mears during Friday’s game. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

Thanks to a pair of clutch free throws from freshman Alexis Euclide, a key bucket from junior Kari Albrecht and another free throw from senior Sammy Shallow, the Oconto Falls High School girls basketball team came away with a 39-33 home victory over North Eastern Conference foe Fox Valley Lutheran on Friday.

Oconto Falls coach Michael Kaczmarek was proud of the team’s strong defensive effort but still sees room for improvement.

“We played well defensively for 28 to 30 minutes but then quit rebounding — we have to finish the possessions by boxing out and going and getting the ball. That disappointed me, but their overall effort and how we rotated on defense, their doing nice things,” he said.

While the final score was separated by just six points, the game looked to be going in a completely different direction just a little earlier.

After stretching a halftime lead from eight to 17 about eight minutes into the second half, it looked as if the Panthers (3-1 overall and NEC) were going to ease to a bounce back win over the Foxes (1-4, 1-3 NEC) after suffering their first loss of the season on Dec. 4 — a 75-52 loss to Wrightstown.

After working hard on defense and leading 20-12 at halftime, Shallow and junior Natalie Brauer were aggressive in the opening minutes of the second half to help the Panthers take a 33-16 advantage with 11 minutes, 30 seconds to play.

Oconto Falls’ offense then went nearly six full minutes without scoring a single point, allowing FVL to hang around.

The Foxes then went on a 12-0 run behind a trio of 3-pointers and free throws to trail by just one, 34-33, with a minute-and-a-half to play.

“I think rebounding mostly, they were crashing the boards and we weren’t boxing out,” said senior Katelyn Albrecht of what happened during FVL’s 17-1 run. “And on offense, we were going to quick, we just got to slow it down.”

After getting fouled, Euclide stepped to the free throw line and confidently knocked down both free throws to put Oconto Falls up three.

Kari Albrecht then converted her field goal to add to the Panthers lead before Shallow hit 1 of 2 from the free throw line to close the scoring.

“They didn’t quit playing,” Kaczmarek said. “I kept preaching that things weren’t going well on the offensive end, so we needed to win it on the defensive end. Emma Huberty came up with two huge rebounds down the stretch which we had to have.”

While the offensive output is not one that will turn many heads, Oconto Falls’ players were proud of the effort put forth on defense.

“We were moving our feet, going hard to help each other, trapping in the corners — we were all just working as a team and it really was a positive,” said Kari Albrecht.

The Panthers entered the season with plenty of experience on their side, but the team knew if it wanted to win games, it will need to rely on its defense.

Friday’s game was a perfect example of that, as no Oconto Falls player scored in double figures but the gritty defensive effort was enough to keep the Panthers ahead.

Kari Albrecht led the team with nine points. Katelyn Albrecht scored six of her eight points in the first half while Huberty scored all of her five points in the opening half.

Shallow scored all six points of her points in the second half. Brauer also finished with six points.

Oconto Falls 20 19 — 39

Fox Valley Lutheran 12 21 — 33

Oconto Falls (39)

Morgan Helmle 0-0 3, Alexis Euclide 2-4 2, Natalie Brauer 0-0 6, Sammy Shallow 2-5 6, Katelyn Albrecht 0-0 8, Emma Huberty 3-4 5, Kari Albrecht 1-2 9.

Fox Valley Lutheran (33)

Jenna Charron 4-9 11, Lydia Feidt 0-0 7, Bailey Jacobsen 0-0 4, Maddie Jacobsen 2-2 5, Kortney Behnke 2-2 5, Lindsey Doyen 1-2 1.

Wausaukee 58, Gillett 54

The Tigers came up just a little short of a road win over the Rangers in a M&O battle on Thursday.

Karissa Schaal powered Gillett on the night, scoring 22 points while also recording eight rebounds. Sydney Young added nine points.

Aubrey DeBauch had nine points, 12 rebounds and four steals for the Tigers while Grace Wickman chipped in seven points.

Suring 66, STAA 25

The Eagles raced past the Cavaliers in a M&O matchup on Thursday.

Paige Krueger led Suring with 15 points while Ryann Wagner added 14. Wylee Van Bellinger scored 12 points and Stephanie Huth added 10 in a balanced Eagles’ attack.

Suring scored 43 second-half points to run away with the game.

Coleman 54, Lena 32

The Wildcats could not keep pace with the Cougars in a M&O battle on Thursday.

Meckenna Portier led Lena with 10 points while Maddy Herald added seven.

Portier grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots. Brianna Spratlin pulled down seven boards while Alayna Peterson dished out four assists.

Wrightstown 75, Oconto Falls 52

The Panthers could not slow down the Tigers in a NEC battle on Dec. 4.

Sammie Shallow led Oconto Falls with 13 points. Kari Albrecht contributed nine points while Alexis Euclide had eight.

Suring 46, Coleman 40

The Eagles held off the Cougars in a tight M&O battle on Dec. 3.

Kylee Stelzer led a balanced Suring attack with 12 points. Paige Krueger and Ryann Wagner each had 10 points.