Better defense was needed in the second half by the Monona Grove High School girls basketball team if it hoped to win its Nov. 22 home opener against non-conference Lakeside Lutheran.
The Silver Eagles held a 31-26 lead at halftime but committed 17 fouls in the first half and sent the Warriors to the free-throw line 19 times.
That changed in the final 18 minutes in the second half as MG was whistled for only six fouls and limited Lakeside to two free throws, both misses, in a 58-51 victory.
“Fouling does so many things we don’t want to do. It prevented us from moving the ball up and down the court, and it got us into trouble in the first half,” head coach Tyler Kuehl said. “Lakeside is a really good team. We had to make a few adjustments and tweak some things.”
The Silver Eagles were led by senior point guard Jenny Gorton with 20 points, 15 in the second half that helped vaporize a rally by the Warriors.
Lakeside scored the first six points of the second half to take a 32-31 lead with 13:48 left in regulation. Yet, Gorton connected on two free throws, a shot beyond the 3-point arc and then made another free throw after getting fouled while her layup fell through the hole to put MG on top 46-40 with 5:44 remaining in regulation.
Junior Emma Goke scored the Silver Eagles next six points, including a 3-point shot, to give MG a 52-42 advantage with 4:15 to play. The Warriors scored on two straight possessions to cut the lead to 56-51 with 38 seconds remaining, but Gorton nailed two free throws to put the game away.
Kuehl credited Gorton with providing some needed senior leadership when the Silver Eagles needed it most.
“We know she can put the ball into the basket,” Kuehl said. “She was communicating very well with her teammates on defense and made some good passes and key steals.”
The first half was slow moving as Lakeside went to the line 19 times, it made only nine while the Silver Eagles hit 5-of-7.
Goke scored seven straight points and Lakyn Hinson sank a layup to give MG a 19-12 lead at the 6:50 mark. The lead ballooned to 24-14 after Hinson hit both ends of a one-plus-one, but a 7-3 run by the Warriors in the final two minutes reduced the lead to 31-26.
Goke finished with 13 points, and junior Peighton Nelson put in nine, seven in the first half.
Monona Grove did well at the free-throw line, hitting 13-of-20 attempts and made seven threes, three of Gorton and two by Nelson.
Lakeside was led by Morgan Slonaker and Lauren Thiele with 10 points each. The Warriors hit just 9-of-21 free throws.
The Silver Eagles return to action Tuesday, Dec. 3, with a road game against Lodi. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MG has beaten the Blue Devils two years in a row, including last season’s 50-48 come-from-behind home victory.
Sun Prairie 67, MG 64 (OT)
Freshman Taylor Moreau had a sparkling debut for MG when it played its Nov. 19 season opener at Sun Prairie.
She scored a team-high 16 points and made four shots from the 3-point line.
But another freshman on the opposing team played a big part down the stretch in helping the Cardinals come out ahead. Marie Outlay had 19 points and hit two crucial free throws at the end of the regulation to lift Sun Prairie to a 67-64 overtime victory over the Silver Eagles.
Outlay had five points in the final 23 seconds of regulation as Sun Prairie came back after trailing by 12. With MG on top 62-60, Outlay was fouled while attempting a 3-point shot and earned three free throws. She missed the first, but sank the next two to send the game into overtime. Sun Prairie outscored MG 5-2 in the extra frame to take the win.
Kuehl said his team’s inexperience was a factor in the defeat.
“Sun Prairie has great athletes and great basketball players,” Kuehl said. “When they turned the heat up, we got a little hesitant.”
The Silver Eagles had 13 3-pointers compared to Sun Prairie’s seven. The Cardinals only made 14-of-38 free throws.
Aside from her scoring, Outlay had eight rebounds, two assists, seven steals and two blocked shots. Jazzanay Seymore led all scorers with 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Monona Grove’s Kayleigh Zank had 11 points, Ally Yundt had nine, and Goke scored eight.
Kuehl was impressed with Moreau in her first high school varsity game.
“We’ve always known Taylor can play,” Kuehl said. “We saw how she could really hang with the varsity, and she played a lot of basketball in the summer. She stepped in, knocked down a bunch of threes and played great defense.”