Late scores burn visiting Wildcats

Mott-Regent needed late scores Friday to pull out a 32-28 victory over New Salem-Almont in a girls basketball showdown Dec. 21 at the Mott Armory.

The win gave the Wildfire (3-4) a 2-0 record against the Wildcats. The first time the teams met (Dec. 8) Mott-Regent burned through New Salem-Almont for a 57-30 win.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

The second win Friday was a lot harder.

The Wildfire jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first quarter, thanks to Megan Hill’s three-pointer and five others scoring.

But the Wildcats turned the tables, matching the Wildfire’s 10-point scoring in the second quarter.

That left the hosts holding a 21-14 edge at halftime.

The third quarter turned the game around for the visitors, holding Mott-Regent to just four points while they cut into lead by scoring seven and closing it to 25-21.

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Fayth Hogar brought the Wildcats within two points (25-23).

She tied the game with 6:10 left when she hit a pair of free throws.

Mott-Regent got the lead back with free throws by Morgan Hertz and Madison Rafferty, each hitting one of two tries with just over four minutes left.

But the Wildcats tied the game with 2:29 left when Jacklyn Pazdernik hit a basket.

Brie Friedt hit the first of two free throw attempts with 1:39 on the clock to give the Wildfire a 28-27 lead, then Kiara Koepplin added a basket with less than a minute left in the game.

New Salem’s Ivy Klusman hit a free throw with 39 seconds left, cutting the Wildfire lead to just two points.

Friedt’s shot block with 28 seconds left forced the Wildcats to call a time out and take on a strategy of fouling in hopes of getting the ball back.

That strategy backfired.

The Wildcats sent Rafferty and Koepplin to the free throw line and it cost them, with both sinking free throws for a 32-28 lead and win.

“We couldn’t hit shots and stopped being aggressive (in the second half),” coach Adam Hill said after the game.

The team was aggressive in the first quarter. “We did that early and got a nice lead. By doing that it got us on the offensive glass. Once we quit running and started passing, they (the Wildcats) got a little more confident. We just quit being agressive.

“I am really proud of the girls and the way we played at the end with the trap we put on them. We executed well. We just didn’t make shots tonight,” the coach explained.

“We had open shots all night long, but when we quit driving and started standing quite a bit, we started missing shots,” he said.

“When we started standing on defense, it kind of snowballed.”

The team learned a lesson Friday night about what happens if they just stand around, Hill explained.

The Wildfire will host New England Jan. 3 when play resumes

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