Eagles outwork Broncos

STEPHENSON – The No.3-ranked Stephenson girls have made quite the statement since getting knocked off from the ranks of the unbeaten. Over the past 48 hours, the Eagles hosted Class B Menominee and perennial Class D contender Bark River-Harris, and made short work of both of them.

Monday night, Stephenson came hard and fast, and simply overpowered the Broncos in their half-court sets en route to a 81-47 victory.

The game came on the heels of Saturday’s 67-30 victory over the Maroons.

“I really like to think that the loss against Coleman, Wis. is partly responsible for what’s happened in the last three games,” Eagles head coach Mark Simon said of his 13-1 squad. “Saturday was a big win against a quality team, but the one I was worried about the most was tonight. To play that well against a good quality team is pretty special.”

The Eagles ran away with this one from the onset. It took about half of the first quarter for them to get in their tempo, then it was off to the races. The Eagles didn’t outrun Bark River, but their combination of size, strength and speed was simply too much to handle.

“They didn’t beat us running,” said Broncos head coach Joel Schultz. “They beat us aggressively in half-court sets. They’re a good ballclub and we’re going to have to shoot better than we did tonight to be able to compete against that level of a team. The second chance opportunities were way too high. They’re a big team and we didn’t box out like we should have.”

Second chance opportunities in fact, probably decided the game. The Eagles hauled in 55 rebounds and boasted three players with double-doubles. Tiffany Wangerin led Stephenson with 27 points and 13 rebounds followed by Kelsey Johnson with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Teammate Lexi Johnson scored 13 points with 16 rebounds. The athletic trio got a lot of tough points inside the arc, using their superior strength to power over Broncos defenders with right-hook layups.

“One of the things I have to do as a coach is understand my personnel,” said Simon. “People like Tiffany Wangerin, Kelsey and Karley Johnson – I have to allow them to create their own opportunities and hopefully my system is allowing that. It was reflected tonight with two players scoring over 20 points.”

Defensively, the Eagles switched in and out of their 2-3 and 3-2 trapping zones and swarmed on the ball, forcing turnovers and bad looks on the Broncos.

“We’ve been working on that for a couple of weeks,” said Simon, “Not giving up the baseline, and if we do, collapse on the ball if it goes inside, and our girls did a great job of that tonight.”

Tori Wangerin added eight rebounds and four blocks for Stephenson. The Broncos were led by Katie Schultz who scored 12 points.

Schultz wasn’t interested in making excuses for having an off-night shooting.

“It’s funny how usually you have the off nights against better teams,” he quipped. “Stephenson I think wanted to make a statement tonight, and I’m happy that they felt we’re a good enough team that they wanted to make a statement against us.”