Jaguars take down 1st place Tritons
By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
ASHWAUBENON-Defense. Defense. Defense. The Ashwaubenon Jaguar girls’ basketball team held the Notre Dame Tritons to 21 points below their season average. It all added up to a 43-37 Jaguar’s victory before a raucous crowd Thursday evening at AHS. (Jan. 11)
Kally VanLaanen came off the Jaguar bench to lead the team with 13 points, and Megan Servais added 9 points and 15 rebounds.
“I am really proud of Kally’s performance tonight,” said Jaguar Head Basketball Coach Nicky VanLaanen. “She knows her role on this team and she hit some big shots when we needed it.”
No Triton player cracked double figures in points.
Kaycee Gierczak and Lizzie Opichka came in averaging a combined 26 points. They were held to a grand total of 7.
The Jaguars carried the momentum over from Tuesday’s dramatic overtime victory over the Trojans into the start versus the Tritons.
Megan Servais started the scoring off with a power lay-in.
Van Laanen quickly came off the pine and started her outburst with a right corner jumper and baseline make to give the Jaguars a healthy 11-1 lead with 13:40 left in the first half.
Tritons Head Coach Sara Rohde called a time-out to try and settle her players down.
While leading scorer Gierczak was having trouble scoring, Freshman Sammy Opichka was not.
She hit two long range buckets and followed that up with a dribble drive take to the rim.
The Jaguars suddenly found themselves only up 15-10 with 5:40 left till the break.
The Jaguars rebuilt their lead back up to eight points with the help of Servais corralling offensive rebounds and subsequent put-backs.
With the home team up 20-12, the Tritons turned up their defensive intensity to another level.
During a span of six possessions, the Jaguars were forced into five turnovers in which they didn’t cross mid-court.
The Tritons ended the half on an 8-0 run sparked by the play of Peyton Milton who was the recipient of lay-ups off miscues.
The Tritons took their first lead of the game (22-20) to start the second half when Opichka (Lizzy) banged home a bucket from inside the paint.
“I took a time-out midway through the second half, “VanLaanen said. “I told the kids that whoever wants it more down the stretch will win this game.”
Both teams knew that each possession was very valuable, and with 8:07 left in the game Center Maddie Koch powered home a six-foot jumper to give the Jaguars a 29-27 lead.
A few minutes later, VanLaanen hit the first of two big triples.
The first was from the student section to put the Jaguars up four, and the second was from 24 feet out to give them a 37-30 lead with just 4:12 left in the contest.
The Tritons, however, kept plugging away, and after the Jaguars missed twice on the one and one bonus, Opichka (Sammy) hit a running scoop shot in the lane and was fouled.
The made free throw cut the Jaguar lead down to 39-37 with just 49 faithful seconds remaining!
The Jaguars hit one of two free throws on their next possession, and then played a defensive possession that ‘Tony Bennett’ would be proud of at UVA.
The Jaguars switched everything out and the Tritons took close to 40 seconds to get a shot off (to tie the game) that barely hit rim.
Autumn Schlader and Van Laanen connected on three of four free throws to ice the game.
“Our defense got it done for us tonight,” added VanLaanen. “To hold their leading scorer to just three points is a testament to our kids on that side of the floor.”
The Jaguars improve to 9-5 overall and 7-3 in the FRCC (4th place).
They will be off for eight days and return Jan. 19 when they host the Redwings of Sheboygan South.
“We have a stretch now of five out of six games at our place,” VanLaanen commented. “We have to be ready to play one game at a time and take care of our home floor.”
Notre Dame/Ashwaubenon Box Score
Notre Dame 20,17, -37
Ashwaubenon 20,23, -43
Triton Totals: FG’s 12-45, 3 PT FG’s 1-3, FT’s 12-20, Rebounds 24, Assists 5, Steals 10, Blocks 1, Turnovers 16, Personal Fouls 21
S. Opichka 9, M. Reitz 7, Gregoire 7, L. Opichka 4, Milton 4, Gierczak 3, H. Reitz 3
Jaguar Totals: FG’s 12-27, 3 PT FG’s 4-7, FT’s 15-26, Rebounds 27, Assists 8, Steals 5, Blocks 1, Turnovers 22, Personal Fouls 19
VanLaanen 13, Servais 9, Kupsh 8, Koch 6, Wright 4, Schlader 3