Twenty four hours made a big difference for the Alcona girls basketball team.
A night after a sluggish performance against Posen, the Tigers shot better, rebounded better and played more cohesively on Wednesday which all added up to a 46-31 victory over Alpena at Alpena High School.
Alcona led 11-3 after one quarter and led by double digits in every quarter after that, frustrating the Wildcats with a strong defensive effort.
“We played better. I think Alpena’s got a nice team, but we just played better. Karina shot a little better finally and our defense was where it needs to be,” Alcona coach Brad Cole said. “It was much better than last night’s result.”
Karina Cole led the Tigers (1-1) with 27 points and hit five first-half treys, getting several open looks to regain her shooting touch a night after scoring 17 points against Posen.
After a season-opening loss to the Vikings, Cole reminded his team that it was just one game and wanted to see the Tigers get back to their style of play. Alcona did just that, fighting for rebounds, putting Karina in position to score and forcing turnovers to spoil Alpena’s season-opener and Arsenault’s debut.
From the outset, the Wildcats (0-1) struggled to find offensive consistency and were limited to just three points in the first quarter. Alpena trailed 23-11 at halftime and got as close as 10 midway through the third quarter, but never was in serious contention for the lead.
“I thought the effort was there. Obviously there’s some things we have to work on,” Alpena coach Dan Arsenault said. “We didn’t handle their pressure real well and they put pressure on the basketball and forced us into situations where we didn’t feel comfortable.”
Adrianna Hatch led Alpena with seven points and Lizzy Trelfa and Alexis Smith each added six points.
Cole scored 17 points in the first half and went to work again in the third quarter, scoring eight of Alcona’s 12 points. She added six rebounds, eight steals and three assists.
“She’s a pretty good shooter when she’s on and she was off in Posen completely,” Cole said. “I kept telling our team we’re not one shooter. We’re a 13-player team and we all need to contribute.”
Nicole Walen added six points, five rebounds and three steals for the Tigers and several of Alcona’s bench players scored later in the game as well.
Alpena trailed 35-19 after three quarters and played arguably its best basketball of the night in the final quarter. A pair of buckets from Hatch and a basket from Trelfa cut Alcona’s lead to 39-26 with 3:46 to play, but the Tigers had the game well in hand by that point. Alpena was limited to just five points the rest of the way.
“It was a great learning experience for our kids and that’s the level where trying to get to. We knew going in Alcona had a great team, the majority of their team coming back,” Arsenault said. “The Cole girl can really shoot the ball. We tried to do our best to get a hand in her face, but she had a few good step-back threes.”
The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday against Ogemaw Heights while Alcona plays at Arenac Eastern on Friday.
Alpena’s JV team topped Alcona 46-24. Mykayla Price led the Wildcats with 16 points and Elise Leeck and Jessica Marwede each added eight points.
ALCONA (46): Ka. Cole 11 0-0 27; Carpenter 1 0-0 2; Ke. Cole 0 1-4 1; Walen 3 0-2 6; Feldhiser 1 0-1 2; Schopfer 1 0-0 2; Manning 1 0-0 2; Quick 1 0-0 2; Terpstra 1 0-0 2
ALPENA (31): Talbot 1 1-2 3; Smith 3 0-0 6; Hatch 3 0-1 7; Allen 1 0-0 2; Trelfa 3 0-0 6; Strong 1 0-0 2; Devers 1 0-0 2 Udell 1 0-0 2; Mainville 0 1-2 1
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.