Prep girls basketball: Negaunee struggle in loss to Escanaba

NEGAUNEE – Brandon Sager was going to give his Negaunee High School girls basketball team a day off from practice today.

“But not now,” the coach said Wednesday night after his Miners dropped a 51-44 non-conference decision to Escanaba at Negaunee’s Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium.

It’s not hard to see why Sager changed his mind. NHS shot just 17 of 60 (28.3 percent) from the field, missed all nine of its 3-point attempts, committed 18 turnovers and blew a five-point lead late in the third quarter.

The Miners (7-5) were also outscored 18-8 in the fourth quarter.

“It all came down to execution and effort,” Sager said. “Escanaba wanted it more than we did.”

Courtney Clickner and Aleda Johnson scored 10 points apiece to lead the Miners. Johnson also had seven rebounds – as did teammate Ashley Tresedder – and came up with four steals.

But Lynsey Collins tossed in 19 points for Escanaba (6-6) – 10 in the fourth quarter.

“I wondered where she was the whole game (before the splurge),” Esky coach Dena Fedell said. “I’m glad she showed up for that fourth quarter.

“She’s a hard worker and doesn’t stop.”

Michelle LaFave added 13 points and five rebounds for the Eskymos. Teammate Ashley Cook netted 11 points.

Negaunee, with Johnson and Hailee Richards notching four points apiece, held a 22-17 lead in the second quarter.

But the Eskymos scored four unanswered points at the end to cut the gap to 22-21 at intermission.

“We couldn’t get anything to click (offensively),” Fedell said. “We were using a new offense and every time we came down the court, the girls had to think what they were doing.”

Escanaba used a box-and-one defense on the Miners and Clickner at times, as well as what Fedell calls a “man zone.”

“It’s a half-man and half-zone,” she said.

It gave the Miners some problems, especially in the fourth quarter.

“We tried every trick we knew to create something (offensively),”Sager said. “But we didn’t shoot well.

“It came down to a lack of execution.”

The Miners also couldn’t stop Escanaba in the final eight minutes, often failing to get back on defense for the Eskymos’ fast break.

“Once we got the fast break going, we got the ball in (the basket),” Fedell said. “This time we finished.

“We also set up our ‘Viking’ (half court) press and that helped.;”

The Miners led 40-37 in the fourth quarter before the Eskymos went on n 8-0 run to go up 45-50 with 1:52 left. Collins and Cook scored four points each in the surge.

“We were sluggish defensively,” Sager said. “There’s no excuse for how flat we played.”

A bright spot for the Miners was they made 17 steals in the game, with Tresedder joining Johnson’s effort with four of her own.

Escanaba won the JV game, 52-39.