The Delta blues

Conference play hasn’t been kind to the Alpena Community College women’s basketball team this season.

It wasn’t any easier on Wednesday after a cold spell in the first half doomed the Lumberjacks in a 63-38 loss to Delta at Park Arena.

Emily Nowak gave the Lumberjacks (4-8 overall, 0-3 MCCAA Eastern) a 4-2 lead in the opening minute of the first half, but after that the game belonged to the Pioneers who went on a 23-0 run in almost five minutes. Kayla Spohn, who led Delta (8-4, 2-1 MCCAA Eastern) with 15 points was especially effective during the run as Delta’s 6-3 sophomore center used her size to get inside for baskets and also hit shots a few times from the outside.

LaBriana Burton and Angelica Garza also reached double figures for Delta, scoring 11 points each.

ACC outscored Delta 18-15 over the final thirteen minutes of the first half, but by then the Lumberjacks’ hole was too big to dig out of.

“We go to practice every day, we do everything, but when it’s game time, I’ve got to try to figure out how to make them play with that edge,” ACC coach Bobby Allen said. “We’ve just got to play with an edge and not fear anybody. You’re not supposed to fear teams, you’re supposed to compete with teams.”

Throughout the game, ACC’s offense had little answer for the Pioneers’ zone defense, which forced at least two dozen Lumberjack turnovers and didn’t allow ACC many open looks. No ACC player reached double figures and Sarah Cummings led the Lumberjacks with eight points.

Allen emphasized that the Lumberjacks need to be better prepared and will go to practice on Friday with a focus on perfecting the fundamentals. The Lumberjacks have lost three straight games including a 92-32 loss to No. 9 St. Clair on Monday.

“You go back and you put extra things in; working on footwork, ballhandling, even cutting drills, passing, how to defend, the whole thing,” Allen said. “Friday morning we’re coming in and we’re going to start over with a little bit more advanced tooling.”

Delta used its depth to a great advantage in the second half, pulling players such as 6-1 freshman center Danielle Warner and 5-10 freshman forward Cassidy Vieau off the bench to contribute to the lead and play key defensive roles.

The Lumberjacks’ offensive woes continued in the second half as ACC had almost a five-minute scoreless stretch to open the period and then a cold stretch that last almost six minutes beginning at the midway point of the half and ending with 4:10 to play. During the second stretch, Delta went on a 9-0 run, using its size and speed to attack the Lumberjacks from all angles.

While several of ACC freshmen players shouldered the bulk of the scoring load on Wednesday, Allen said he’d like to see an increased level of confidence from some of his younger players.

“I’ve got some freshman that are talented, they just need to believe in themselves. I try to tell them every day in practice, ‘Just believe in yourself, you can do this.’ It’s just taking longer than I expected,” Allen said.

ACC will play at Kirtland on Saturday.

DELTA (63): Spohn 7 1-3 15; Dineen 2 3-4 7; Pringle 1 0-0 2; Garza 4 3-3 11; Peterson 2 0-0 5; Burton 2 5-10 11; Vieau 2 1-2 5; Warner 1 0-0 2.

ALPENA (38): Frazier 3 0-0 6; Seibert 2 3-4 7; A. Nowak 2 3-5 7; E. Nowak 2 0-0 4; Cummings 3 2-4 8; Wollan 0 3-4 3; Smith 1 0-0 3.