Sometimes, no matter how hard a team tries to put the ball in the basket, it just doesn’t go in.
That’s how the Oshkosh North Spartans girls basketball team felt on Friday.
The Spartans went cold from the floor, falling to the Appleton North Lightning 49-31 at the Oshkosh North Fieldhouse in a matchup of two of the top teams in the Fox Valley Association standings.
The game was much closer than the final score indicated, as the Lightning held a slim 19-16 lead going into halftime.
Coming out of the break, Appleton North went on a 8-1 run, keyed by a three-point play from Grace Garvey to take a 27-20 lead.
Oshkosh North would respond in the later part of the period, with back-to-back three-point plays from Nicole Herkert and Brooklyn Schamens to make the Lightning lead 30-27.
But then came the backbreaker, as Appleton North would push the lead out to eight to end the third quarter with a 3-pointer from Matayla Springstroh and a bucket from Mackenzie Greisch to take all the momentum away from the Spartans.
“Credit their defense and a little it of us, too,” North coach Rachel Biertzer said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score tonight and they just didn’t drop.”
The Lightning would continue on that late 5-0 run in the fourth quarter, extending it to a 12-2 run to push the lead out to 42-29 midway through the fourth quarter.
Oshkosh North was cold all night though, going just 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) from the floor.
Part of that was of the Lightning’s pressure defense, which pushed the Spartans off of the 3-point line and prevented them from getting a rhythm offensively.
“They are athletic,” Biertzer said. “They have some quick guard play and they match up well with us.
“They were able to hit some big shots when they needed to and unfortunately, we weren’t.”
Also hurting the Spartans was foul trouble. Starters Michaela Welsh and Elizabeth Redlin and key bench player Kiaya Adams all had to sit with two or more fouls in the second quarter. Starter Hannah Robl also had to sit out some time in the second half, too, with foul trouble.
Although the Spartan bench played solidly, the starters weren’t able to get anything going when they did get back in.
“I thought our bench did a good job of coming in and stepping up,” Biertzer said. “But anytime you have kids in foul trouble it takes you out of your rhythm. That’s a credit to (Appleton) North. They attacked the basket hard.”
Herkert led the Spartans with 11 points on the night, while Schamens chipped in with 10.
The loss was the first of the season for the Spartans, who went to 5-1 in the FVA in the loss. Even though it was a loss, Biertzer was happy that it occurred early in the season so Oshkosh North can learn from their mistakes.
“Appleton North exposed some of our deficiencies, so we have some things that we need to work on,” she said. “But now is the time you want to work on them, December.
“We took one on the chin but certainly losses can’t define you. They have to shape you and you have to grow from them.”
Notes: Mackenzie Greisch led the Lightning with 16 points on the night. … Robl, Welsh and Adams all had four fouls for Oshkosh North.
Game ball: Herkert. She made the most of her limited touches due to the Lightning pressure and led the Spartans in points with 11.
Numbers game: 19, the number of turnovers that the Spartans had, which was more than double the amount of field goals that they made.
Appleton North…5 14 16 14 — 49
Oshkosh North…6 10 11 4 — 31
Appleton North: Riebau 11, Woychek 2, Springstroh 7, VanHandel 4, Greisch 16, Martin 3, Oberbrunner 3, Garvey 3. 3-pointers: 2 (Greisch, Springstroh). FTs: 13-22. Total fouls: 16.
Oshkosh North: Schoen 2, Redlin 3, Robl 5, Herkert 11, Schamens 10. 3-pointers: 1 (Redlin). FTs: 14-22. Total fouls: 18.