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Girls Basketball: Wildcats scratch out title

New London-Spicer's 6-foot-3 senior center Abbey Knisely, center, shoots over Bloomington Kennedy's Jade Martin, left, and Isieoma Odor in the first half Thursday at New London. Knisely finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)1 / 2
New London-Spicer's Brogen Lothert, center, wrestles a defensive rebound away from Tonoia Wade of Bloomington Kennedy. Surrounding the play from left, are Taylor Thunstedt of NLS, Kennedy's Heather Bachman, NLS' Anna Lindquist and Allison Ruter, and Kennedy's Kenisha Bell. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)2 / 2

NEW LONDON -- The thing about the press is that you either break it or it breaks you.

New London-Spicer ducked and weaved and passed their way through the vice-like Bloomington Kennedy full-court pressure just enough to win a riveting finale to the West Central Tribune WildCard Girls Basketball Tournament on Friday, 56-52.

The Wildcats (7-1) built a 28-19 halftime margin up to a 41-22 advantage with 10:25 left.

But the Eagles downshifted and suddenly found some traction off their press-and-trap to ignite their inside game, which had been ineffective most of the evening.

The Eagles' impressive lineup mixing speed and size clawed their way back to 54-52 with 57 seconds left. Taylor Thunstedt, an NLS freshman guard who led all-scorers with 20 points, picked off two long defense rebounds and drew a foul each time.

Thunstedt missed the first pair of free throws, but hit the second pair for a 56-52 lead with 18 seconds left and that's how it ended.

"I thought we played an outstanding game," said NLS coach Mike Dreier. "We had a tough stretch there but it's hard to duplicate that athleticism in practice. You make passes that normally connect and they just swoop in and pick them off."

Wildcats' center Abbey Knisely finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. Karsee Knutson supplied 10 points and four assists. Thunstedt hit four of the team's seven treys.

"We work a lot of hours on breaking the press," said NLS senior Brogen Lothert. "When it got tough, we just had to stay strong and keep our composure."

Heather Bachman led the Eagles with 12 points.

New London-Spicer 56, Bloomington Kennedy 52

Kennedy (4-5) 19 33 -- 52

NLS (8-1) 28 28 -- 56

BLOOMINGTON KENNEDY - 21-79 FG (2-16 3-pt); 8-14 FT; 34 rebounds; 23 fouls ... Scoring: Jasimine Scott 7, Sheridan Reiners 9, Jade Martin 2, Kenisha Bell 10, Micaela Meredith 3, Heather Bachman 12, Tonoia Wade 9 ... 3-point shots: Bell 1, Wade 1 ... Rebound, Assist, Steal leaders: not available

NEW LONDON-SPICER - 19-46 FG (7-23 3-pt); 11-17 FT; 42 rebounds; 17 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Thunstedt 20, Karsee Knutson 10, Amanda Radel 5, Brogen Lothert 3, Anna Lindquist 6, Abbey Knisely 12 ... 3-point shots: Thunstedt 4, Knutson 2, Radel 1 ... Rebound leaders: Knisely 12, Lindquist 7, Lothert 9 ... Assist leaders: Knutson 4, Radel 4 ... Steal leaders: Thunstedt 3 ... Blocks: Knisely 8

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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