December 27, 2022 at 2:50 p.m.
Lady Dutchmen girls basketball plays solid first half
The Melrose Area Lady Dutchmen girls basketball squad stayed close to the West Central Area Knights in the first half of their West Central Conference game Dec. 20 at Melrose Area Elementary School in Melrose, but they ended up losing 66-42. The 23-22 score reflected one of the team’s best halves this year.
“We played really good in the first half but came out slow and sluggish in the second half,” said Evan Reller, head coach. “There was a little bit of fatigue there, but West Central Area had played yesterday too.”
The Lady Dutchmen kept working to get Ria Nelson and Paige Gruber open for shots. Early on, it had success doing so. Nelson connected on drives and outside shots and drew fouls. She finished the contest hitting 10 of 12 free-throw attempts and scoring 18 points.
Paige Gruber, 11 points, and Kaydence Bertram have developed into a nice complementary pair offensively and defensively. Bertram had nine points. Defensively, she led the team with three steals. Gruber had 10 rebounds.
“They have good chemistry,” Reller said. “When they get it going, they play off each other nicely.”
Another Lady Dutchman with a good defensive effort was Nora Schwieters. While her play did not result in scoring statistics, it did slow down West Central Area for a time.
“She tries to get the deflection, steals and rebounds,” Reller said. “When she does that, we are better.”
An early offensive surge saw the Lady Dutchmen take a 31-29 lead early in the second half. Then, the Knights went on a 13-0 run, taking an 11-point lead and never looking back. It capitalized on steals and turnovers.
Melrose had late game scores by Shantel Gruber and Jenna Finken.
The Lady Dutchmen will take part in the annual Cathedral Christmas Classic tournament against Concordia Academy at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.
WCA 23 43-66
MEL 22 20-42
Melrose: Nelson 18 points, Paige Gruber 11 (10R), Jazmin Finken 4, Bertram 3 (3S), Madelyn Kuechle 3 (3R), Shantel Gruber 2 and Jenna Finken 1.