EagleHerald/Brian Bell
Menominee’s Mackenzie Wellner shoots a jumper over Peshtigo’s Grace Wickman in Saturday’s game at Peshtigo.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell

Menominee’s Mackenzie Wellner shoots a jumper over Peshtigo’s Grace Wickman in Saturday’s game at Peshtigo.

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PESHTIGO — Defense led to increased offense in the second half for the Menominee girls basketball team on Saturday, when the Maroons were able to pull away from Peshtigo to get a 51-32 non-conference win.

“Toward the end of the game when we started to pull away our defense really stepped up for us,” Menominee coach Lucas Chouinard said. “Not only the steals, but the deflections and the way the girls disrupted (Peshtigo’s) offense was great. That led to some easy transition baskets and that’s what we want.”

After Gabby Perry split a pair of free throws with 9 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the game to get an 8-point halftime deficit down to three at 29-26, Menominee went on a brief 6-0 run highlighted by Jenna Nolde stealing the ball on two straight possessions and making all four free throws after she was fouled on the fastbreak layup attempts. 

Peshtigo got the lead down to 35-29 on a basket and a free throw from Lianna Baxter, but the Maroons’ defense answered and allowed for a 7-0 run. It ended when Emma Anderson made Menominee’s eighth-straight free throw in the second half, to get some breathing room at 42-29. 

“We cut it to six and I thought we were in pretty good shape,” Peshtigo coach Bruce Parkovich said. “Then we threw the ball away the next two times down, (Menominee) gets a steal and then they made their free throws.”

With just under four minutes remaining, Courtney Kodric made a jumper from the left corner to get within 10 (42-32). Menominee locked up on defense again and Emma Hofer’s floater in the lane capped off a 9-0 run to end the game. 

“We played a tough game (Friday) night and we played on Tuesday so I think the girls were a little tired,” Parkovich said. “I think we were about a half a step behind a lot of things. Menominee got away with it at the end a little bit so I don’t think the score really tells how the game went. I’m proud of the girls, we’re just a little inexperienced yet. We don’t have a true point guard and it showed tonight.”

The Bulldogs had some success against Menominee’s man-to-man defense but when the Maroons changed to a zone, forced Peshtigo into outside shots and took away the dangerous Baxter down low, the team looked out of sorts. As a team, Peshtigo shot just 7-of-39 (17 percent) from the field and 0-3 from 3-point range. 

“We’re not a great outside shooting team and that’s why the girls won’t even shoot from there,” Parkovich said. “Sometimes we look bad against the zone, but if you play man I think we’re OK. In a zone, that’s when teams take away Lianna and things get tough for us.”

Menominee started the game on a 7-1 run thanks to five points from Anderson and a basket from Hofer. Peshtigo tied the game 7-7 and took an 11-9 lead with 10:25 remaining in the half on two free throws from Grace Wickman. 

With the score at 13-10 in favor of the Bulldogs, Arikah Bellisle made a basket inside and the Maroons press and zone defense started to bother Peshtigo to spark a half-ending 15-4 run. Hofer and Erin Barrette each knocked down a triple and had five points on the run.

“We can score in bunches,” Chouinard said. “When we’re stagnant offensively that hurts our defense.”

Anderson had 15 points and seven rebounds to lead the Maroons; Hofer scored 11 and had two steals; Barrette had seven points, six assists and four steals and Nolde six points and five steals. 

Baxter led Peshtigo with 14 points and four rebounds and Wickman added seven points and six rebounds. 

The Maroons host Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday while the Bulldogs host Algoma on Thursday.