Monona Grove High School girls basketball coach Tyler Kuehl has always tried to emulate the theory first started by UW men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan: to earn one point per shot taken during a game.
“I believe it is easier to shoot 33 percent from (the 3-point arc) than it is to shoot 50 percent from shots in the 2-point range that are not layups,” Kuehl once said when asked why his team attempts so many 3-point shots. “We only want to shoot layups and catch and shoot threes. To make this math tilt even more in our favor, it helps to have more possessions, which is why we try to push the pace as much as we can.”
Kuehl’s theory was in full swing Feb. 7 when the Silver Eagles hosted Monroe in a Badger South Conference game. MG hit 15-of-33 shots from the arc and beat the Cheesemakers 84-70.
The MG player putting on a shooting clinic was senior Jenny Gorton, who hit 8-of-15 shots from the 3-point line and 10-of-18 overall for 29 points. Gorton also helped MG with five rebounds, four assists and steals.
The win improved the Silver Eagles record to 12-7 overall and 7-4 in conference. With the WIAA Division 1 tournament beginning later this month, the victory was a major boost for MG, which had dropped five of its previous six games. It was also MG’s second win of the year over the Cheesemakers after a 60-55 win at Monroe on Jan. 3.
Monona Grove led 40-39 at halftime but broke the game open in the second half with a 41-33 burst.
Junior Emma Goke scored 16 points for MG including 4-of-8 from 3-point territory, and junior Peighton Nelson had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Senior Jadee Christiansen put in nine points with five rebounds, and sophomore Avery Poole had six points, six rebounds and three assists.
Only four players scored for Monroe, and all reached double figures. Junior Megan Benzschawel had 21 points with nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
Senior Grace Tostrud knocked in 20 points, freshman Taylor Jacobson had 19 and senior Grace Mathiason had 10.
The Cheesemakers hit 7-of-21 from the 3-point line with Tostrud and Jacobson each getting three. Both teams did well at the foul line with Monona Grove hitting 8-of-11 and Monroe making 13-of-15 attempts.
The Silver Eagles play at Fort Atkinson on Thursday, Feb. 13, in a Badger South Conference game with the tipoff set for 7:15 p.m. The Blackhawks were winless in 12 conference games after an 89-48 loss at Oregon on Feb. 7.
Milton 66, MG 58
Two months ago, the Monona Grove High School girls basketball team had an easy time getting a home victory against Badger South Conference opponent Milton.
On Feb. 4, the Silver Eagles couldn’t get the job done at Milton as the Red Hawks took a 66-58 win.
Kuehl said his team allowed Milton too many foul shots in the game – 35 attempted and 28 made – because the defense was undisciplined.
“Being out of position caused us to foul all too often,” Kuehl said. “Another cause of our fouling was giving up too many offensive rebounds. When you give up those rebounds, you are often out of position and fouls happen as a result.”
Milton led 28-24 at the half and outscored MG 38-34 in the second half. Nelson led with 16 points and Gorton had 15. Kuehl said Milton played much better in this game than it did in the December contest.
“Milton did a great job of handling our pressure this time around,” Kuehl said. “We played much better in our first meeting, but they did a nice job of beating our press, which resulted in easy baskets or committed fouls.”
Milton had four double-figure scorers including Shelby Mack-Honold with 15, Abbie Campion with 12, and Grade Quade and Alex Rodenberg with 10 each.
Six-foot senior forward/center Seanna Curran, who averages 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, was not able to play due to injuries. Yet, Kuehl said the team should be able to play the brand of basketball it aims to play.
“This recent adversity hasn’t been good for our win/loss record, but I do think it’s good for us,” Kuehl said. “We were winning a lot of games earlier this season despite some of these same undisciplined issues. It’s been good for us to see what we need to do to be playing our best basketball come tournament time.”