EagleHerald/Brian Bell
Emma Anderson (32) and the Menominee girls basketball team had their postseason run ended in Gaylord on Wednesday.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell

Emma Anderson (32) and the Menominee girls basketball team had their postseason run ended in Gaylord on Wednesday.

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GAYLORD, Mich. — The issue that’s plagued the Menominee girls basketball team all season finally ended it on Wednesday.

Multiple times this year, the Maroons have been ahead late in games, but their opponent found a way to get back in the game, take a lead and hold on to it for the win. Against Cadillac in the Division 2 Region 4 championship, Menominee led by nine in the first half and held a six-point lead after halftime, but the Vikings connected on seven of their 11 3-pointers in the second half to steal a 55-52 victory.

“That’s kind of been the thing for our season,” Menominee coach Lucas Chouinard said. “There’s been times we’ve had double-digit lead and we’ve let teams climb back in slowly, but surely tonight was one of those nights as well. We talked about extending on (Cadillac’s) shooters at halftime, but we still had our hands down and didn’t make it tough on them to find their shots.”

Cadillac got out to an early 6-4 lead, but Menominee used a 7-0 run on a Jenna Nolde 3-pointer, Makenzie Wellner’s drive down the middle of the lane and Emma Anderson’s baseline drive.

After the Vikings tied it up at 11, Erin Barrette and Anderson scored on back-to-back baskets to go up 15-11, but Cadillac’s Molly Anderson drilled a pull-up 3-pointer just before the buzzer to head into the second quarter with a 15-14 deficit.

It looked as if Menominee was about to take control to start the second quarter.

Cadillac’s Anderson started it off with a basket, but the Maroons rattled off nine straight points to take a 24-16 lead. Anderson made a basket inside, Nolde drove baseline for a basket, Anderson sank a 3-pointer and Wellner jumped a passing lane for an easy fast-break layup.

Makenna Bryant split a pair of free throws to stop the Maroons’ run, but Nolde drove one hard to the hoop right after for Menominee’s biggest lead of the game (26-17), but the Vikings wouldn’t go away.

Cadillac stormed back to get within three on a steal and fast-break layup from Makayla Knight and Bryant splitting a pair of free throws and making her second 3-pointer of the half. Barrette answered with a three-point play with 1 minute, 38 seconds left before halftime, but Cadillac followed with an Anderson 3-pointer and a Macy Brown basket inside to go into the half trailing 29-28.

The Maroons played a fairly clean first half, only turning the ball over seven times and making 12-of-21 shots (10-13 inside 3-point line).

“It was a good first half of basketball, it was back and forth, but again, we had a lead and let them crawl back in, but we still have 16 minutes left to play,” Chouinard said. “So we talked about just sticking with our game plan and moving the ball offensively and try to put a hand up on the shooters.”

The Vikings took a two point lead when Brown scored inside and Anderson sank a corner 3-pointer, but Menominee’s Anderson responded with a basket inside and back-to-back 3-pointers to reclaim the lead at 39-33. Right after, Cadillac tied the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from Madilyn Drabik and Bryant; followed by Anderson hitting a 3-pointer for Menominee to take a 42-39 lead. Bryant responded with another three to tie the game back up.

Bryant then used a baseline drive to give Cadillac a 44-42 lead, but the Maroons’ Anderson was fouled on a 3-pointer with no time left on the clock. She went 2-for-3 and the teams were knotted at 44 after three quarters.

Cadillac broke the tie to start the fourth quarter with back-to-back threes from Anderson and Bryant. The score stood at 50-44 until Sarah Barrette found Wellner wide open down low for a basket and then the next time down the court, Barrette grabbed an offensive rebound, passed to Anderson, who found Nolde sitting in the corner for an open three to get Menominee within one at 50-49, forcing Cadillac into a timeout with 4:08 remaining in the game.

Out of the timeout, the Vikings missed a shot and the Maroons cleaned up the rebound, eventually turning it into a floater from Erin Barrette to take a 51-50 lead with just under two minutes remaining.

“We got down six early in the fourth quarter, but the girls never quit and fought back,” Chouinard said. “Credit to the girls for never giving up and playing their hearts out when that adversity hit.”

After the Maroons missed the front end of a bonus free throw, Cadillac’s Anderson launched a deep 3-pointer that found the net to go up 53-51 with 50 seconds to play. Menominee couldn’t find a way to get a bucket in the last minute of the game and Cadillac advanced to the state quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“The story of the second half was we just didn’t get a hand up in the shooters faces,” Chouinard said. “All I can ask of them is to fight and persevere and the whole season they’ve stuck to the plan. We’ve been down and they’ve never hung their heads; a lot of times we just fall a couple points short and tonight was one of those nights.”

Anderson led the way for Menominee with 24 points; Nolde had 22; Erin Barrette added nine and Wellner finished with six.

Four seniors played their last game for Menominee — Sarah Barrette, Arikah Bellisle, Emma Hofer and Kendall Klatt — and Chouinard had nothing, but good things to say about those four.

“I can’t ask for anything more from Sarah, Arikah, Kendell and Emma. Whenever you ask them to do something, they’re all in,” Chouinard said. “All I can ask for as a coach is for when I ask players to do something like commit themselves to the game of basketball, they’re all in.”

“Not only are they great basketball players, but they’re terrific people. And they will be missed.”