Polar Bear’s trapping defense too much for Red Raiders
By Murray Gleffe
PULASKI — High school basketball is officially back.
Eight and a half months after the COVID-19 pandemic ended its state tournament hopes, the Hortonville girls’ basketball team used its full-court pressure to defeat Pulaski 82-57 in nonconference action Nov. 24 at Pulaski High School.
“Hortonville is long and athletic,” said Pulaski head coach Doug McElrone. “When you lose your point guard early in the game, it creates a hole for our other guards to protect the ball. They are well-coached, and they’ve had success because of their style and talented players.”
Pulaski (0-1 overall) point guard Sheridan Flauger picked up her third foul with 10:02 remaining in the first half and had to leave the game.
Ashlyn Szymanski led the Red Raiders with 21 points, while the trio of Skyler Lukasik, Olivia Kubiak and Taylor Olson combined for 19 points and eight assists after receiving limited playing time in 2019.
“I told the team, ‘we need other players to step up this year besides Ashlyn and Sheridan,’” McElrone said. “Whoever is on the floor is going to be expected to contribute. I thought they (Skyler, Olivia, and Taylor) gave us some good play inside and out.”
The Polar Bears (1-0) were paced by Lyric Johnson, who had 19 points, and Kamy Peppler’s 18.
Peppler connected on 6-of-10 three pointers.
The visitors, with their considerable height advantage in the frontcourt, grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the game.
Hortonville jumped out to a 14-6 lead when 6-foot freshman forward Mikayla Werner put in a layup off a nice seal in the paint.
After Flauger went to the bench, the Polar Bears extended their lead to 30-18 when Johnson connected on an elbow jumper.
Moments before the horn sounded for halftime, Szymanski connected on a 24-foot triple to trim the lead to 41-28 at the break.
Pulaski started the second half by breaking the press on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 43-33 with 16:25 remaining.
However, it was short-lived, as Hortonville went to a 1-2-2 half-court, trapping defense and forced multiple turnovers and rushed shots to extend the margin to 62-46 halfway through the half.
A litter later, Danielle McQuillan hit a pair of free throws and Szymanski a back-door layup to keep the Red Raiders within shouting distance.
The Polar Bears finished the game on a 15-5 run to run away with the contest.
“We’ve had six days to practice, and it clearly will take some time,” said McElrone. “The girls saw what it takes to be a high-level team with communication and cutting off ball screens hard to get good shots. We’ll be a good team by season’s end.”
Hortonville: 41, 41 — 82
Pulaski: 28, 29 — 57
Polar Bears: Johnson 19, Kamy Peppler 18, Mocadlo 10, Mikayla Werner 10, Kallie Peppler 9, Maggie Werner 8, Steuwer 6, Hammen 2.
Red Raiders: Szymanski 21, Flauger 9, Kubiak 8, Olson 6, Lukasik 5, Egnarski 4, McQuillan 2, DeCleene 2.