Patriots’ defense overwhelms Florence girls


Sports Writer

FLORENCE, Wis. – Goodman-Pembine, triggered by a turnover-inducing defense, spilled Florence 49-29 in the Northern Lakes Conference girls basketball opener for both schools Thursday.

The Patriots shot out to a 28-8 halftime cushion on the strength of relentless pressure defense.

“We put on a lot of pressure and forced a lot of turnovers (24),” Patriots coach Dennis Bilski said. “Our defense was outstanding. It dictated everything.”

Courtney Goyak’s 20 points and 14 rebounds paced the Patriots. Rachel Stankevich added 15 points, five steals and five assists. Claire Goyak contributed 12 points and Marissa Moloney handed out five assists.

Florence did show second-half improvement in navigating Goodman-Pembine’s pressure.

“We broke the press a lot better in the second half,” Florence Coach Katie Kilton said. “The press definitely hurt us in the first half.

“They have great guard pressure and they are so active. You don’t see any of their girls on defense standing flat-footed. They’re always moving, always talking to each other.”

Florence opened in a 1-3-1 defense but the Patriots dissolved that strategy.

“They were passing the ball so fast we couldn’t keep up with them,” Kilton said. “They have very good ball movement.”

Brooke Soderberg and Aly Young each hooped nine points to lead the Bobcats. Tessa Merhalski tacked on seven.

Soderberg, who also contributed three steals, keyed the Bobcats in their second half improvement.

“We just needed to stay calm and collected,” Kilton said. “When you attack the press, you get fastbreaks and good things will come out of it.”

Florence, down by 26 points in the fourth quarter, did run off seven straight points to narrow the gap to 46-27 with 1:58 left. Bilski called timeout to get his Patriots “back on the same page.”

“We were playing a little street ball,” Bilski said. “We don’t play street ball.

“Our shooting and execution of plays, that was OK. We always need to work on something. We still had a few too many turnovers.”

On Tuesday, Florence (1-1, 0-1) visits Crandon and Goodman-Pembine (3-0, 1-0) faces Three Lakes at Goodman.

“Three Lakes is going to surprise some people,” said Bilski, noting several returning players. “They’re very athletic.”

In the junior varsity game, Gina Gehlhoff scored 10 points and Florence outlasted Goodman-Pembine 24-20 in double overtime. Sydney Braaten led the Patriots with seven.

Goodman-Pemb. 10 18 12 9 – 49

Florence 4 4 10 11 – 29

GOODMAN-PEMBINE: Claire Goyak 12, Stepien 2, Stankevich 15, Courtney Goyak 20. FT: 9-17. F: 11.

FLORENCE: Soderberg 9, Merhalski 7, Young 9, Doll 4. FT: 2-9. F: 15.

FG shooting: Goodman-Pembine 18-50, Florence 13-42. Rebounding: Goodman-Pembine 26 (Courtney Goyak 14), Florence 18 (Glime 8).