Cougars keep their cool, maul Wolves

CARNEY – The No. 2-ranked Superior Central girls made the 80 mile trip from Eben, then promptly got off the bus and got out to a 23-0 lead after the first quarter en route to a 66-23 Central U.P. Conference victory over Carney-Nadeau Monday night.

Just another day’s work for the undefeated Cougars (19-0, 14-0 CUP), who were also ranked No. 2 in the state by the Associated Press upon the poll’s release today.

“The girls played really well tonight,” said Cougars coach Greg Trowbridge. “I talked to them a little bit and wanted to make sure that we weren’t too aggressive. I didn’t want them to get into foul trouble which has happened a little bit this year. When I can keep all five starters on the floor, good things happen.”

Good things indeed. The Cougars simply took what was presented to them and that ended up being a slew of Wolves turnovers and open looks at the other end. It powered Superior Central out to a 27-0 lead before the Wolves (10-9, 9-6 CUP) scored their first point at the seven minute mark of the second quarter on a free throw from Morgan Eichhorn.

“I thought they did a really good job tonight (defensively),” said Trowbridge. “We just ran man-to-man instead of switching things up with the press. I thought we needed to work on that as we’re getting ready for the tournament.”

Vanessa Freberg led the Cougars with 21 points while Teslyn Tyner added 18. The duo put up a combined five triples, all in the first half, and neither played more than a couple minutes of the fourth quarter.

“I was concerned about them getting hurt in a situation like that,” said Trowbridge.

It was a typical game from Freberg, who defines the word unselfish when she’s on the court. The junior forward, now 39 points away from 1,000 for her career often deferred to her teammates even if the opportunity was there for her.

The Wolves first field goal came at the 5:40 mark on a jumper from Miranda Baumler. That seemed to briefly spark Carney as it put together a 10-point quarter, but any momentum was short lived.

The Cougars built a 40 point (54-14) lead at about the 1:40 mark of the third quarter and it was a running clock until the end of the game.

“I was hoping we’d put up a good showing. Right now, we’re just in a funk and I don’t know if it would have mattered who we played tonight but Superior Central is an awesome team,” said Wolves coach Duane Bingham. “They shot well, they defended well, they ran the court and rebounded well. If you play your worst game, you don’t want to play the best team in the conference on their best night, but that’s what it seemed like tonight. Our heads just weren’t in it.”

It was the Wolves’ senior night and Lauren Murray, Autam Wery, Miranda Baumler and Mikayla DeBacker each played their last home game. In the pre-game, Casey Charlier, who is out with an ACL injury, was introduced as an honorary senior starter. However, the fanfare wasn’t enough to lift the Wolves as nothing they did offensively seemed to work.

“Our offense is just off-kilter right now. We can’t get anything going on the offensive end,” said Bingham. “There were passes that went right through fingers or right to the other team. I know these girls can play better than they did tonight. We’ll have to figure it out by the end of the week.”

The Wolves, which won the jayvee game 28-26, have already secured their first non-losing season in six years. They will try for a win in their last game Thursday at North Dickinson.

“That would be big for us,” said Bingham. “We’ll be 10-10 at worst, but you’d like to be 11-9 at the end of the season with a winning record and winning your last game going into districts. We have a lot to work on between now and Thursday.”

Superior Central will try to wrap up an undefeated regular season at home Thursday against Engadine.