KEWAUNEE - The Kewaunee girls basketball team didn't forget.
The last time the Storm played Algoma the Storm appeared headed for a big road win before its usually stingy defense allowed 24 fourth-quarter points, including a 3-point buzzer-beater by Taylor Schmidt, to give the Wolves a thrilling comeback win.
Friday, the teams met for "War On the Shore, Part 2," and Kewaunee entered the game focused on not letting another lead slip away late.
Of course, in order for the Storm to make that happen it had to get the lead first and Kewaunee did just that. The Storm's first lead was 8-6 and it never trailed the rest of the game. Behind a balanced offense and solid defense, Kewaunee split the season series with Algoma, winning, 48-36, on Friday night, forcing a tie atop the Packerland Conference.
"It always feels good to beat them here," Kewaunee guard Jill Kleiman said. "Too bad we came up short there, but it was revenge here."
Algoma, ranked No. 4 in the FOX 11 Top 11 girls basketball poll, entered the game shorthanded as it was without leading scorer Kennedy Blahnik (13.1 points per game), who has a knee injury. Without Blahnik, Algoma missed its best inside player, but Schmidt did step up with 15 points.
Blahnik's absence was felt on offense as the Wolves scored a season-low 36 points and also on defense as they allowed Kewaunee's forwards, Kelsey Stangel and Alex Richard, more room to operate and that was key.
"Blahnik is just a great athlete and we hoped we could take advantage of that," said Kewaunee's coach Lynn Geier, whose team has won 10 straight games. "Their kids play really well with Blahnik or without Blahnik. It's a great win for us."
While Algoma was without its top scorer, No. 5 Kewaunee showed off one of it strengths – balanced scoring. The Storm entered the game with three players averaging more than 10 ppg. and another over 7 ppg. That balance played out as Richard led the Storm with 13 points, while Stangel added 12, Kleiman 10 and Kiley Heim 9, respectively.
"That's very important; we talked about that," Geier said. "Jill had a huge game against them the first time so we knew they would be after her. The one thing we think about our team is we think balance. We have to have all kids score."
The balance allowed Kewaunee to play in front most fo the game and with both defenses capable of shutting down the opposition it was important to play from ahead. Then in the fourth Kewaunee led by 11 points, like it did in the first meeting, but this time the Storm didn't wilt.
The lead never dropped below eight points in the final frame as Kewaunee cruised to a tie in the conference race.
"Coach was preaching before the fourth quarter, 24 points," Kleiman said. "We kept fighting and we did everything we needed to do."
Based on how dominant Algoma and Kewaunee are, it looks as if the teams are destined to share the conference title like the previous two seasons. That's fine with Geier.
"It puts back in the race for the conference championship," Geier said about getting the win. "We still have things to take care of. The team effort was great. Fourth quarter they came back and made that run and I called timeout. Last game they scored 24 points and they didn't want that to happen again."
- 3-pointers: Kewaunee had two 10-0 runs in the first half. … McKenzie Mueller added 10 points for Algoma, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped. … After 11 turnovers in the first half, Kewaunee had just five in the second half.
- Game ball: Stangel, whose inside-outside game was impressive.
- Numbers game: 10 Wins for Algoma and Kewaunee in conference play.
(5)KEWAUNEE 48, (4)ALGOMA 36
Algoma……....6 10 7 13 — 36
Kewaunee…12 10 12 14 — 48
Algoma (15-2, 10-1): Taylor Schmidt 15, McKenzie Mueller 10, Megan Ryan 2, Anna Dier 4, Kathleen Bluett 3, Karissa Koss 2. 3-pointers: 3 (Schmidt 1, Mueller 1, Bluett 1). Turnovers: 19. Totals: 15 3-8 36.
Kewaunee (14-1, 10-1): Alex Richard 13, Kelsey Stangel 12, Jill Kleiman 10, Kiley Heim 9, Carli VanGoethem 2, Amanda Kudick 2. 3-pointers: 3 (Kleiman 1, Stangel 1, Heim 1). Turnovers: 16. Totals: 17 11-16 48.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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