By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – The first varsity girls’ basketball game of the season at Green Bay Preble Nov. 26 was a battle to the end.
Preble outlasted West De Pere in an overtime thriller, 80-74.
The Hornets’ Carley Duffney finished with 26 points and 16 assists.
Duffney found ways to get the ball into the hands of her teammates the entire evening.
“She has that point guard vision on the court,” said Preble head coach Jim Doell of Duffney. “She can see things before they happen, and that’s nice to have.”
A good number of Duffney’s assists were dished out to 6-foot-3 Kendall Renard, who turned in 24 points and 15 rebounds.
The junior Duffney is a verbal commit to Division I South Dakota, while Renard recently signed her National Letter of Intent to play at Division I UW-Green Bay.
West De Pere’s Alexa Thompson, who sent the game into overtime with a three-pointer at the end of regulation, had a game-high 30 points.
Renard scored down low off of an assist from Duffney early in the game to give the Hornets a 5-3 edge.
After the Phantoms responded at the other end with a bucket from Bailey Baeten, on Preble’s ensuing trip up the floor, Duffney drove to the basket and brought two West De Pere defenders with her.
With the defense collapsing on her, she kicked the ball to an open Taylor Sleger who nailed the three-pointer.
Down 12-7 following two quick scores from Duffney, West DePere’s Casey Jepson hit a three-pointer to get the Phantoms to within a pair before Imani Ninham tied the game with a move down low.
Shortly after, Jepson gave West De Pere its biggest lead of the night with a shot underneath to make it 16-12, forcing the home team to call a timeout.
Preble responded after the timeout and took a 37-31 lead into halftime.
After a Renard bucket pushed the lead to 52-42 in the second half, the Phantoms clawed their way back before Thompson’s dramatic shot.
Free throws kept the overtime period close until the end.
Thomson got West De Pere to within three points at 77-74 with a shot in the paint, but Duffney found Dominique King under the basket on Preble’s next possession to seal the win for the Hornets.
“Give West De Pere a lot of credit – they hit a ton of big shots,” said Doell. “They can shoot it, so our goal was to take away their three-point game. Unfortunately, our 2-3 zone probably did a better job of that than our man-to-man. We need to work on that, but it’s early in the season, and we’ll make some adjustments there.”