Tigers see late surge fall short, 36-32

New England’s Molly Rayhorn (2) wrestles with teammate Shelley Kathrein and Center Stanton foes in the second half of Saturday’s home game. The visiting Wildcats won a narrow 36-32 victory. Herald photo / Brad Mosher

Center-Stanton wrestles victory away from New England

Even the New England coach thought his girls basketball team started too slow Saturday when the Tigers hosted Center-Stanton.

The score was 12-9 with the Wildcats in the lead at halftime.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

That changed in the second half, but the vicitors still won a 36-32 decision.

The two teams had battled to a 5-5 tie after the first quarter, but then Center-Stanton pulled ahead.

The Tigers added four, while the Wildcats had seven.

Center-Stanton built an even bigger lead (11-6) in the third quarter to have a 23-15 edge going into the final quarter.

It was in the final minutes where the Tigers rallied to tie the game.

They not only outscored and out-hustled the visitors in the last eight minutes of the game, they also more than doubled their halftime score.

It started quickly, with senior Takoda Westling hitting a shot in the first 30 seconds.

Molly Rayburn hammered the Wildcats with a three-point bomb seconds later, cutting the lead to just three points, 23-20.

Center-Stanton’s Molly Vitek responed with two free throws, but the Tigers came back again with a three-pointer from Madison Spenser and 6:14 left.

Shelley Kathrein tied the game moments later with a fastbreak basket off a steal with 5:49 left.

Vitek broke the tie and moments also hit an offensive reboundto help power four of a five-point swing by the Wildcats to give them a 30-25 edge.

Westling his a shot with 3:50 left, closing the gap to 30-27, only to have Center-Stanton senior Ashley Frank score to build a five-point lead.

After a free throw by Kathrein cut the lead to four with 3:11 left and a New England time out, both teams had trouble with turnovers.

Rayburn hit a free throw with 1:39 left to cut the lead to three (32-29), but Vitek answered with a basket seconds later.

Another Rayburn free throw with about a minute left cut the lead to four points (34-30).

The Wildcats would get two free throws and the Tigers would add a basket to close out the final minute of play.

For New England coach Jason Jung, the final quarter served as a sneak preview of what his team can do.

The Tigers had outscored the visitors by a 17-13 margin and had cut an eight-point lead in about two minutes.

“We played a much better second half than the first half. In the first half, we weren’t scoring and we had only nine points.

“Give credit to our kids that they came back in the second half. We took care of the ball a lot better in the second half, which gave us more opportunities to score.

“We ended up with 17 points in the fourth quarter alone, which is our season high,” Jung said.

“They are getting better and better with each game,” he added. “I think there is going to be good things in the future for this team.”

Vitek finished the game as high scorer with 13 points, while Amber Frank had six, Ashley Frank and Kori Nagel had five points each. Karsyn Haag finished with four, while Hannah Hoffman scored two and Kathryn Kraft had a free throw.

The WIldcats struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 10 of 25 attempts (40 percent).

The Tigers were led by Rayburn’s nine points, while Kathrein and Hadley Binstock each finished with five points. Westling and Elli Rettinger both finished with four points. Elizabeth Kaufman had three points, while Emily Dinius scored two.

The Tigers were able to hit five free throws in 13 attempts (38 percent).

Mott trips up Tigers

The Mott Wildfire gave the women from New England a rough reception Jan. 3 when the hosts dropped the visiting Tigers by a 51-37 margin in Mott Armory.

The Wildfire improved to 1-0 in Region 7 play with the win (5-3 overall). The Tigers fell to 0-2 (1-6 overall).

It was the Tigers who got off to a good start, hold a narrow 6-5 lead after the first period.

But it was in the second quarter that the Wildfire blew open the game with a 17-7 run that gave the home team a nine-point lead at halftime (22-13).

New England came back to cut the lead by one point in the third quarter (32-24), giving the Wildfire an eight-point advantage going into the final eight minutes.

The Wildfire iced the game by outscoring the visitors by a 19-13 margin.

Mott’s Madison Meier was the top scorer in the game with 14 points, while Bree Friedt had 11 and Megan Hill scored 10.  Mott also got seven points from Madison Rafferty, while Karagan Friedt added three. Hailee Olson, Mary Jane Mayer and Kiara Koepplin each put two points in, respectively.

Kathrein led the Tigers with 12 points, while Rayburn and Kaufman each added 10. Rettinger scored three points, while Lindsay Koch added two.

The Wildfire had a 5-1 edge in long-range scoring, getting a 15-3 edge from outside the arc. Hill led the Wildfire with three of the team’s five three-point baskets, while Kaufman had the Tigers’ only long-range bomb.

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