Lincoln’s efficient night from the foul line ended up being the difference against city rival Roosevelt in a 59-51 home win for the Patriots on Thursday night.
The Patriots knocked in 23 of 26 from the stripe, including a perfect 11-for-11 mark from junior wing Anna Brecht, who led all scorers with 26 points.
“Once we started hitting some shots early in possessions, I think that really did get us going,” Brecht said. “We like to push it and get out early in possessions – that’s our game. … And I think getting those free-throws really helped, too.”
Roosevelt needed a final 3-pointer from Jamie Spicer to come within single digits for the final margin, but in reality the game was close until the final minutes. The Rough Riders started slow but managed a three-point halftime deficit and seized a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Peyton Stolle was particularly effective working inside and out. The 5-foot-10 forward got her points a variety of ways to finish with a team-high 17 to go with five rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
The Riders, in part making up for a lack of length, were a scrappy bunch on defense. Lincoln managed just 10 first-quarter points and didn’t get any from the field in an 8-point third quarter (the Pats did go 8-for-8 from the line, though).
“I think that they’re a really gritty team,” Brecht said, admitting that’s not an identity Lincoln shares. “We’re a fast-paced team, we like to push. But I think we did handle it pretty well for how scrappy there were.”
On the flip side, defense has been a persistent struggle for the Patriots – and a string of recent games hasn’t helped their energy level.
“They look great in practice, they’re a smart team and they get defensive fundamentals,” said Coach Matt Daly. “But when we get to the game we’re so content with playing soft, playing undisciplined defense, and just pushing the ball out and shooting it.”
Daly didn’t pull any punches on his 15-4 team.
“You can’t win a state tournament like that because you’re going to have that off-night shooting,” Daly said. “But we’re finding ways to get to the rim – we’re not just a jump-shooting team any more. We’re becoming more versatile. But defensively, the intensity needs to improve.”
Both teams hit their fair share of big shots. Roosevelt captured its first lead of the game at 30-28 after an offensive rebound set up another 3-point attempt for Spicer.
Lincoln took back the lead on a top-of-the-key trey from guard Sydney Rosinsky. A Madisyn Waltman 3-pointer tied it at 41-41 a few minutes later. But just as Lincoln’s offense struggled at times in the opening and third frames, the Patriots found their stride in the final half of the fourth quarter. Repeat trips to the line tell a big part of the story.
“One thing we have even when we’re tired, is length,” Daly said, “and we have some shooters with the ability to knock down some difficult shots. I think we’ve gutted our way through some games now, and we’re a little tired and beat up.”
Brecht, who surpassed 1,000 points over the weekend in Rapid City, has legitimate scoring complements in Van Veldhuizen (Augustana recruit) and Rosinsky, whom Daly said has been getting a lot of college attention lately.
Riders on the rise
First-year Roosevelt coach David Maxwell has a measurement for how far his team has come, and it’s on a cosmic scale.
“I’m just so proud of the strides that we’ve taken,” Maxwell said. “If you look at our team now versus where we were at the beginning of the year, we’re lightyears ahead.”
While any casual observer could see that the normally high-flying Patriots were sluggish at times, credit goes to Roosevelt for creating those conditions.
Offensively, Roosevelt relied on volume in terms of plays and sets. A few months ago, that would not have been an option.
“I said jokingly after the game to think back to O’Gorman, our first game of the year,” Maxwell said. “How many sets did we have? We had five sets in and I don’t know if we ran one right the whole night. We probably ran 30 sets tonight, and we didn’t screw one up.”
But while acknowledging the positives from Thursday, Maxwell admitted there’s further to go – namely to develop a killer instinct.
“Now, at the start of the fourth quarter, do we believe that we’re going to win?” Maxwell said. “Or are we just, ‘Hey, we competed. We’re right there. Whether we win or lose, we’re going home happy because we competed?’”
Maxwell said he felt that attitude, and that the players admitted it.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better – and it’s hard to be thinking about that with one regular-season game left, but at the same time, why not?” Maxwell said. “Why can’t we just continue to get better?”
Kira Ward 4-7 0-0 8, Kenzie Phillips 2-6 0-2 5, Jamie Spicer 2-6 0-0 6, Peyton Stolle 5-11 6-8 17, Tahia Mitzel 2-11 0-0 4, Abby Schultz 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Johnson 2-5 0-0 4, Madisyn Waltman 2-3 0-2 6. Totals 19-49 6-12 51.
Izzy Van Veldhuizen 4-8 6-7 15, Jill Ricke 2-3 0-0 4, Anna Brecht 6-12 11-11 26, Sydney Rosinsky 2-8 4-6 10, Allie Schriever 0-1 2-2 2, Maggie Stock 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Luitjens 0-0 0-0 0, Jayda Hallman 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-34 23-26 59.
Roosevelt 7 18 12 14 – 51
Lincoln 10 18 8 23 – 59
3-pointers: SFR 7-19 (Spicer 2-6, Waltman 2-3), SFL 6-16 (Brecht 3-5, Rosinsky 2-8). Total fouls – SFR 19, SFL 9. Fouled out – Stolle. Rebounds – SFR 23 (Stolle 5), SFL 30 (Brecht 5). Assists – SFR 5 (Mitzel 2), SFL 9 (Brecht and Rosinsky 3). Steals – SFR 3 (Mitzel 3), SFL 8 (Schriever 3). Blocks – SFR 6 (Stolle 3, Spicer 2), SFL 2.