By Robert Whitmire
STEVENS POINT — The SPASH girls basketball team pulled out a hard fought 50 – 43 win over Wisconsin Valley Conference leader D.C. Everest at the SPASH fieldhouse Friday night.
The win moves the Panthers into a first place tie with the Evergreens, both with a 10 – 1 in conference play. SPASH improves to 19 – 2 overall on the season. Everest took a 65 – 63 overtime win back in January in Schofield to hand the Panthers their only conference loss.
Everest jumped out to the early lead, 9 – 2, at the 13:30 mark of the first period but the Panthers managed to outscore the Evergreens 18 – 9 the rest of the way taking a 20 – 18 lead into the halftime break.
Everest found itself up 32 – 29 mid-way through the second half. SPASH regained the lead, 35 – 34 at the 6:05 mark of the period and held on to a slim 44 – 43 lead with 0.49 seconds left. In the end, it was free throw shooting that won the game including two big charity tosses from junior Madisyn Rogan to give the Panthers some breathing room at 46 – 43 in the final seconds of the game.
“We worked on out zone offense a lot because we had some trouble with that in the first game, said Rogan. “Tonight we put it all together and came out with a huge victory. We worked hard and played together as a team.”
SPASH outscored Everest 18 -12 at the free throw line for the game on 18 – of 23 shooting.
Maggie Negaard lit up the board with 17 points to lead all scorers. Leah Earnest added twelve.
Earnest entered the game second in the conference in scoring with a 19.7 points per game average and first in rebounding averaging 9.1 per game.
“We played our game and stuck to what we knew we were good at,” said Earnest. “Our team right now has passion and a winning mindset. I think my job in every game is to outwork, outplay the other team on the board, scoring, or defense. No matter what, I need ot bring the most intensity and enthusiasm I can,” commented Earnest on her game this season.
SPASH will host Wausau East for senior night Friday, February 15. Opening tip is scheduled for 7:15 pm.
The SPASH junior varsity won 31 – 22 in the first game of the night. Faith Weddle and Izabelle Eppinger led the Panther attack with seven points each. Joleece Pecore chipped in five.
SPASH Varsity: Maggie Negaard 17; Leah Earnest 12; Madisyn Rogan 8; Rachel Sullivan 6; Halle Gregorich 4; Maddie Fink 3
D.C. Everest: Taylor Petit 12; Natalie Mohring 12; Malorie Schmoll 9; Lexie Higgins 7; Sarah Lehrke 6.
SPASH JV: Izabelle Eppinger 7; Faith Weddle 7; Joleece Pecore 5; Hailey Carlson 4; Alyssa Standifer 3; Kylie Klismith 3; Kirsten Hill 2.