Victoria outlasts TMP in overtime
By KLINT SPILLER
VICTORIA -- If the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball team were to get beat, they didn't want it to be by Victoria's top tandem of forward Audra Nowak and guard Kristin Huser.
The juniors have scored 62 percent of the Knights' points this year. To stop them, TMP played a triangle-and-two defense, placing their top defender, senior point guard Heather Ruder, on Huser and double- and, at times, triple-teaming Nowak.
It didn't help. Victoria won anyway, defeating the Monarchs 44-41 in overtime Tuesday and extending TMP's winless streak to six.
"Offensively, the Nowak girl and the Huser girl, they do a nice job on offense," said TMP head coach Rose McFarland. "We were going to take them out of the game and make somebody else shoot. Some of their girls weren't looking to shoot at all, but they did hit a few shots out there."
Victoria head coach Anne Dinkel said it was the first time this season the Knights (3-2) had faced that particular defense.
"I told the girls you are going to have to step up on the outside," Dinkel said. "We've got the outside shooters, so it works for us, and when Audra gets it on the inside, she is able to take it up, go up strong and draw some fouls sometimes."
Victoria got much needed help from its support players, mostly from junior guard Brooke Schmidt, who averaged just five points per game entering the contest.
But on Tuesday, Schmidt led the team in scoring with 14 points. Taking advantage of open perimeter looks, she made 4 of 10 shots from behind the arc.
"They do and they can step up," Huser said. "I know they can. I have a lot of faith in my teammates."
Though they faced stiff defensive pressure all night, Huser and Nowak still had strong games. Nowak scored 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting and also tied for the team lead with seven rebounds. Huser added 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Their contributions came when they needed it the most, too. After TMP had taken its first lead late in the first quarter, Huser and Nowak combined to score 11 in a 13-4 run by Victoria.
Then in overtime, they combined to score five of their team's seven points to pull ahead for the victory.
"They are those kind of players that step up when you need them to," Dinkel said.
TMP had an "off" night by Ruder, its star player. After going off for eight 3-pointers and 30 points Friday at Ellinwood, Ruder made just 4 of 10 against Victoria, prompting Dinkel to feel thankful after the game. Ruder still tied for the team lead with 14 points.
"We knew she would be a threat, but it doesn't happen all the time, so it was in our favor tonight," Dinkel said.
Senior forward Jenna Schuckman had a big night for TMP as well. She scored 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting and 6-of-9 shooting from the foul line.
Sophomore forward Kaylor Gottschalk and senior guard Allison Pfeifer tied for the team lead with seven rebounds.
"I told them to keep their heads up, because they are getting better," McFarland said. "Defensively, I thought we did a good job. We had a few breakdowns on offense. I think we'll get that corrected."
TMP battled just to get back into the game. Down 33-22 with 7:30 remaining in the fourth, TMP went on a 15-4 run, sparked by three straight 3-pointers by Ruder.
Schuckman scored a basket and sunk a pair of free throws to tie it in the final minute. However, four turnovers in overtime doomed the Monarchs.
McFarland said she doesn't want her players to think too much about their 0-6 start. She wants her players to think about the positives.
"We fought back and got it tied up," she said. "We made some big free throws at the end of the game. There's a lot of positives I'm looking at, too."