Lady Bulldogs hold onto tourney title

Monday, January 17, 2005
Senior Deanna Wright (14) came up two steals and transition baskets within 19 seconds of each to trim Slater's deficit to 11 points late in the third quarter.

NEW FRANKLIN -- The girls' finals of the 76th annual New Franklin Tournament featured a rematch of two teams heading in the opposite directions.

The host Lady Bulldogs lost their first three games of the season, including a 40-33 decision against Slater to open the Glasgow Tournament, but have now won seven of nine after handing the Lady Wildcats their third loss in a row Saturday, 40-27.

Slater's offense killed it. Besides shooting 24.0 percent from the field -- a decline even from the 29.8 percent of the night before, a 42-40 overtime loss at Lewis and Clark Conference foe Paris (2-9, 1-2 L&C) -- the Lady 'Cats coughed the ball up 16 times.

"It seems like sometimes they'd rather turn the ball over than take the open shot," remarked Slater head coach Bob Gonzalez. "It's a lack of confidence in their shooting."

Yet, Slater started well enough, senior Deanna Wright setting up junior Katie Tyre inside and then making a follow shot. The Lady 'Dogs missed their first eight attempts, but five straight Purple turnovers allowed the hosts to hang around until the shots started dropping -- which they did with a pair of three-pointers by sophomore Kayla Wies.

"We've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, reading the defense, learning when to drive," Gonzalez said. "When we do that, we can be a pretty good team."

Trailing by a point at the end of the first quarter, New Franklin took command the rest of the half. While the Lady 'Cats missed 22 of 28 attempts over the next two periods, the home team enjoyed a 26-10 stretch. The key was the high-low post game, which produced 10 second-quarter points for freshman Courtney Wilmsmeyer for an 11-point halftime lead.

"We got caught out of position," Gonzalez explained. "We let someone get inside us."

The 'Dogs would extend the margin to 15 points midway through the third frame, but Wright came up with back-to-back steals for transition buckets to close the gap to 11 with 1:55 to go in the period.

However, with Slater getting no offensive production from its bench, Wright alone wasn't enough -- New Franklin scoring the next eight points and the Lady 'Cats going over four minutes without a point to see the gap widen to 38-19.

"Our bench has done a good job" in past games, Gonzalez said, "but they have to pay attention and know what we're doing."

Senior Rhiannon Monnig drained a three with 5:22 left in the game and the Lady 'Dogs didn't score during the final four minutes, but Slater never mounted a charge.

Wies finished with 16 points and Wilmsmeyer provided 12 points and 10 rebounds for New Franklin (7-5), which defended its tourney crown.

Blanked against the Lady Coyotes the night before, Wright had 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals for Slater (6-7, 1-4) -- which will have a tougher opponent ahead Tuesday when it hosts Crest Ridge.

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