Although Amelia lost all three games, Lady Barons head coach Tara Kaiser believes the challenge those three games brought to her team will make them better coming down the stretch.
“The key for us (to string together wins towards the end of the season) was playing great competition over the holidays,” Kaiser said. “We wanted that to make us better, so that’s what what we wanted to do going into the second half of the season.
“The first half of the season, we lost to New Richmond by one and Bethel by four, so we’re right in there. We plan on making a strong go at it.”
The challenges the Lady Barons faced over the past few weeks brought about a great team win on Thursday, Jan. 19 over Goshen 57-37.
“I would say individually, every one of our kids had a great night,” Kaiser said. “The best thing about tonight was that it was a whole team victory and that got us all pumped up.”
The Lady Warriors started the game off with an and-one by Kelly Parriman, but Amelia went on to score nine-straight points to open up a seven-point lead, 9-2.
The key to the Lady Barons’ first-quarter run was their work on the offensive glass. Amelia was getting multiple shots at the basket nearly every time down the floor, only going backing up on defense after a made basket.
“We went after it from the very beginning offensively. We took good, smart shots and it put us in position to get the rebounds. That was the difference,” Kaiser said.
Seniors Kymmy Simon and Megan Menztel accounted for all nine of the Lady Barons’ first-quarter points, but were aided by the strong effort by their teammates on the boards.
Goshen hit the last two field goals of the quarter to cut the Amelia lead to two, 9-7, at the end of the quarter, but the Lady Barons’ defensive pressure seemed to just settle in as the first period ended.
“We played great defense,” Kaiser said. “We had a great scouting report on them and we did exactly what we wanted to do and it kept them from scoring.
“They have four really good three-point shooters and we prevented that.”
As the Amelia defense tightened on the Lady Warriors, Goshen did their best to keep themselves in the game with some solid defense of their own, forcing some turnovers by the Lady Barons.
Eventually, though, Amelia was able to break through, again thanks to Simon and Mentzel. Both guards were able to expose the Goshen zone by driving into the heart of the defense and dropping off passes to the low block where Danielle Lang and Cassidy Bailey were able to finish around the hoop.
The Lady Barons held Goshen to five points in the second quarter, allowing no field goals and forcing the Lady Warriors to earn their points from the foul line, taking an 18-12 lead into the locker room.
Amelia blew the game open in the third quarter, scoring four quick points to start the half and give the Lady Barons a 10-point lead.
Lang, a junior, led the way for Amelia in the third scoring six points, but also making her presence felt on the defensive end with steals and blocks.
With the Lady Barons shutting down Goshen underneath the hoop, the Lady Warriors resorted to shooting contested jump shots.
“We just kept going at them (in the third quarter) and took smart shots and they fell for us,” Kaiser said.
When the dust settled following the third quarter, the Lady Barons had opened up an 18-point lead, 35-17, all but putting the game to bed.
Goshen had no quit in them as the Lady Warriors ratcheted up their pressure in the fourth quarter, putting on a full-court press and flying all over the court trying to get back into the game.
Unfortunately for Goshen, the Lady Barons kept their composure and dealt with the press while also playing the same hard-nosed defense that built their lead.
Even when it seemed like Goshen had a fighter’s chance, cutting the lead to 15 with just under five minutes remaining, Simon took control of the game and iced it from the foul line.
The Lady Barons held Goshen to 30 percent (13-43) shooting from the field and out-rebounded them 37-24.
Amelia’s three seniors, Simon, Mentzel and Alanna Whited scored 32 of the Lady Barons’ 57 points.
“All of our seniors mean a lot to our program. They’re all leaders, on and off the court. Kymmy does things great, Megan does things great, Alanna does things great,” Kaiser said.
“They all have their own thing that they bring to the court and it’s excellent leadership and that obviously showed tonight.”
Simon scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds, Lang had 12 points and eight boards. Mentzel had an impressive stat line, scoring eight points while pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
The Lady Barons faced off with Aiken on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and then head to New Richmond to face the Lady Lions on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Goshen drops to 7-8 on the year and will head to Bethel-Tate to play the Lady Tigers on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Goshen (6-8) – Parriman 2 1 5, Turner 2 2 7, Steele 1 2 5, Jeandrevin 2 2 6, Davidson 2 0 4, Blumentripp 1 0 3, Taylor 2 1 5, Wilcher 1 0 2. Totals: 13 8 37.
Amelia (6-8) – Mentzel 4 2 8, Terry 2 0 4, Lang 6 0 12, Whited 2 0 4, Ferro 1 1 3, Simon 6 9 22, Bailey 2 0 4. Totals: 23 12 57.
Halftime: Amelia 18-12. 3-pointers: G 3 (Turner, Steele, Blumentripp); A 1 (Simon).