HANCOCK - The Hancock and Baraga girls' basketball teams played with a similar intensity level and employed a similar 3-point-heavy offensive strategy, but only the visiting Vikings hit their shots Tuesday night in a 56-37 non-conference win.
Baraga, which had beat Ewen-Trout Creek 44-37 just the night before, made 22 of 53 shots (41.5 percent), including eight threes. Hancock, which hadn't played in a week, made 14 of 56 shots (25 percent), including six 3s.
"If we would have missed a couple more shots I think it would have been a different game, but luckily we were on the good side," Baraga coach Mariah Dunham said. " It was a great win for us, and I'm more than happy with my team right now. We battled and everybody (all 11 players) got on the scoring column, and that makes me happy."
Baraga’s Katie Schjoth fires a 3-point shot in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 56-37 Vikings’ road win over Hancock, as Bulldog defender Molly Berg closes out. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
Early on, though, Hancock's full-court pressure forced several turnovers and the Bulldogs opened a quick 7-2 lead. But then Jenna Heikkinen scored five of her eight points in less than a minute, and Rebecca Larson scored seven of her game-high 16 points during a 16-3 Baraga run to finish an 18-10 first quarter.
"We hit tough shots. Jenna and Rebecca, clutch shots all the time," Dunham said.
Larson finished tied with a game-high 16 points - and fell just one rebound shy of her third straight double-double - but Hancock's Molly Berg, who also chipped in 16, hit two clutch threes during an early second-quarter 9-2 run.
Baraga 18 15 13 10 - 56
Hancock 10 11 6 10 - 37
Baraga Rebecca Larson 16, Brittany Nieskes 10, Jenna Heikkinen 8, Shannon Fish 6, Katie Schjoth 4, Taylor Swanson 3, Taryn Nurmela 2, Melissa Putala 2, Gabby Mayo 2, Jackie Wadaga 2, Tori Basanen 1; FT: 4-10; Fouls: 11; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Larson 4, Heikkinen 2, Nieskes 1, Swanson 1.
Hancock Molly Berg 16, Kirsten Berg 10, Taylor Pertile 4, Madisyn Wright 3, Mackenzie Brunet 2, Quincy Lorenzetti 1, Taylor Mattson 1; FT: 3-6; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: M. Berg 3, K. Berg 2, Wright 1.
But, just like they had in the first quarter, the Vikings finished the quarter strong, using a 13-2 run to increase a 20-19 advantage to 33-21 by halftime. The Bulldogs kept hoisting threes in an effort to answer with another run of their own, but the shooting went cold and the hosts never cut the deficit below nine.
"We fell in a little bit of a shooting slump, we started to live and die by the 3-point shot," Hancock coach Jack Johnson said. "That's helped us and hurt us this season. Baraga did the same thing, but they hit them.
" I don't think that was due to our lack of defense, they just shot the ball well. They had some girls that really hit some big clutch shots at key points. We'd make a little run to get back into the game and they hit a three and we're back down by 12 to 15."
After Larson hit a three to open the second half and make it 36-21, Hancock bounced back with six in a row. But then Baraga finished yet another quarter with yet another spurt, this time a 10-0 run.
Both teams scored 10 points in a turnover- and free-throw-filled fourth quarter. In the last six minutes of quarters, Baraga, with nine of 11 players as upperclassmen, outscored Hancock, with five of its nine players as underclassmen, 47-13.
"I just thought we finally played a complete four-quarter game," Dunham said. "I was waiting for our game where we would come out every single quarter with some type of intensity, and we did that this game."
Baraga senior Brittany Nieskes and Hancock senior Kirsten Berg cancelled each other out with 10 points apiece. Taryn Nurmela had a game-high 11 rebounds, while Katie Schjoth pitched in 10. No Bulldog had more than two individual rebounds.
Baraga (3-3) is off until Jan. 4 when it hosts Watersmeet, while Hancock (2-3) will wrap up the 2012 portion of its schedule Thursday at WestPAC foe West Iron County.