Preble hangs on to defeat Southwest
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – Almost everything has been clicking of late for the Green Bay Preble girls’ basketball team.
Winners of 13 of their last 14 games, the Hornets have won in a variety of ways: blowout fashion or by one point in overtime.
Following a 59-56 Fox River Classic Conference victory Feb. 4 at Green Bay Southwest, Preble has won its last three games by a combined 10 points.
Preble head coach Jim Doell said the scores didn’t have to be that close, but the Hornets are having a tough time closing out games.
“We’re struggling with those types of things,” Doell said. “We have opportunities within the game to close it out, and we’ll give up an easy basket, or we won’t run smart offense or a turnover when those opportunities come. We’ll work situations a little more at practice – that’s probably my fault.”
Preble has been on a roll after starting the season 1-3.
“We need to stay poised, not have bad turnovers,” University of Wisconsin-Green Bay commit Kendall Renard said. “Get the ball, take open shots and make our free throws – free throws are a big thing.”
With Preble up 55-48, Southwest missed a pair of front ends to one-on-one shots at the free-throw line.
A step-back three-pointer by Arizona State commit Jaddan Simmons put the Trojans down one, 57-56, with 41 seconds remaining.
Two made free throws by Ella Bialkowski put Preble up three with 11.7 seconds on the clock.
Simmons got off a contested three-pointer and happened to find her way to a loose ball to get off a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The shot rimmed out as Preble hung on.
“Give them credit, they fought back,” Doell said. “Our defense wasn’t as good as it has been in the past. The girls know that, and we’ll work on it and fix some things.”
Said Renard: “We know the season is coming to an end and we want to close the season good, get ready for playoffs and make sure our defense and offense are on point.”
Preble wouldn’t have upped its winning streak to four games without the help of Carley Duffney.
The junior guard went off for a game-high 28 points, including 5-for-5 on three-pointers in the second half.
“The basket was definitely wide open for her tonight – she was feeling it,” Doell said.
Add in Renard’s 18 points, and Preble had a formidable one-two punch from the perimeter to the paint.
“They’re kind of a double threat,” Southwest head coach Berri West said. “When it’s an inside-outside double threat, that makes it tough. Renard seals well, and Duffney has the eyes of a hawk – she can find her wherever she is. We had to rely on our zone tonight, and I think that helped us stay in the game.”
Southwest’s zone was effective, but it exposed the defense to open looks for Renard in the post.
“I knew they had to respect our shooters because Carley was having an on night,” Renard said. “I knew it was one-on-one, and I have to take those shots because our team needed to win.”
Preble (14-4 overall, 11-3 FRCC) led at halftime, 27-21.
The Hornets tied their biggest lead of seven points, 35-28, on a Duffney 3-pointer, but a 13-7 run by the Trojans made it 42-41.
Preble quickly responded with an 8-2 run on another Duffney three-pointer.
Southwest (11-6, 7-6) got 22 points from Simmons, and her teammate, Kiara Thomas, added 15.
“Jaddan attracts lots of attention, respectfully she should, she’s a great player,” West said. “The other kids need to understand their roles. I’m happy with where many of our kids are learning how to adjust when she drives; we’re working on different cuts on how to move as she gets in the paint. It’s huge for us to have some role players step up when it’s needed.”
The Preble players were riding the momentum from a big road victory at Notre Dame Academy four days earlier.
“Our last couple of wins pushed us to do better, and we’re aiming to keep our conference record, so we better beat teams that need to be beat,” Renard said.