In the nick of time

A win doesn’t always have to be pretty or huge to feel good.

The Alpena girls basketball team’s 30-29 win over Tawas on Friday was neither pretty or easy, but it gets the Wildcats closer to the .500. mark.

It was a tightly fought game to the end, but Alpena’s fourth-quarter push guaranteed the win.

“I thought we played with a lot of effort, especially in the fourth quarter. We got some loose balls, some steals and we made them uncomfortable, which is something we hadn’t done for three quarters,” Alpena coach Dan Arsenault said.

Alpena (4-6, 3-3 Big North) entered the fourth quarter down 22-19 and fell behind 24-19 when the Braves’ Jenna Szostak hit a bucket four seconds into the quarter.

Alpena answered back with a 8-1 run over the next two minutes that gave it a tentative 27-25 lead.

A big part of that success was the offensive awakening of Adrianna Hatch. Hatch, the second leading scorer in the Big North Conference, scored twice in a 30 second period while Elizabeth Trelfa scored two buckets of her own over the next minute.

Tawas fought back over the next three minutes and gradually took a 29-27 lead with 2:24 left to play.

Both teams were focused on tight defense, with Alpena pushing a hard man-to-man and Tawas stifling Alpena’s rebounding with the zone.

“They run a very fundamental 2-3 zone, they’re very patient with it and they’re rarely out of position. When you aren’t shooting real well, you get in a dog fight against the zone,” Arsenault said.

Neither team had much luck at the basket throughout the night, but a three pointer by Jenna Talbot with 1:14 left in the game sealed the deal at 30-29.

Talbot led the Wildcats with 10 points.

The rest of the quarter was devoted to free throws and missed shot opportunities for both teams. Alpena had several chances to increase its lead and Tawas had several chances to take the lead, but the ball just wouldn’t drop.

The first half was mostly dominated by Tawas. The first quarter ended 8-5 when a Amber Dzierbicki trey pushed the Braves’ into the lead.

The second quarter was a defensive battle with plenty of full court presses and trap options. Both teams generated turnovers and steals, but rarely converted.

Another Dzierbicki trey a minute and a half into the second quarter gave Tawas an 11-5 lead. A six-point scoring splurge by Talbot pulled Alpena to a 12-11 lead with 3:48 left, but Tawas held on to take a 15-13 halftime lead.

Tawas entered the third quarter strongly with a quick bucket from Szostak. Haley Chapleski sunk another basket 30 seconds later to put Tawas ahead 19-13.

The Wildcats just couldn’t get the ball to drop in the third until a trey by Hatch with 4:47 left pulled Alpena to a 22-19 spread. Alpena held Tawas scoreless for the rest of the quarter as it narrowed the Braves’ lead to 22-19.

This momentum carried over into the fourth, where the Wildcats finally sealed the deal.

Alpena hosts Gaylord tonight at 7:30 in a makeup game.

ALPENA (30): E. Strong 1 0-1 2; J. Talbot 3 2-4 10; M. Allen 1 0-0 2; A. Hatch 4 0-0 9; E. Trelfa 3 1-2 7.

TAWAS (29): J. Short 1 0-0 2; J. Szostak 3 1-5 8; I. Flory 3 1-2 8; A. Dzierbicki 1 1-2 4; C. Flory 1 1-2 3; H. Chapleski 2 0-1 4.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.