No. 4 RSM girls bounce back from first loss with win over Gehlen

Friday, January 13, 2023
(Photo By Roy Tucker) Gehlen Catholic’s Sophie Ruden and Haley Pohlen attempt to steal the ball away from RSM’s Halle Galles in Tuesday’s rivalry game.

REMSEN — Losing the War Eagle Conference lead to Unity Christian taught the Remsen St. Mary’s girls basketball team the importance of a strong inside game. Three nights later against Gehlen Catholic, Coach Scott Willman’s No. 4 (Class 1A) Hawks drove hard to the basket in the first half. Then in the second half of Tuesday’s 61-26 victory at the Jerry and Marlene Harpenau Family Gym, the home team started to pile up offensive rebound baskets.

“Coming off that loss to Unity, which was a very good team, I think it put us in a perspective that we need to play our game so we can get to our goal at the end of the year,” said 5-foot-11 junior Whitney Jensen, one of the Hawks’ top inside players. “At halftime, we talked about needing to be stronger getting those offensive rebounds. We needed to box out and go after those offensive rebounds. We struggled against Unity in getting those rebounds. We worked on that. Finishing at the rim was another thing we needed to work on.”

Jensen hiked her three-year career total to 713 points following a 20-point effort. Remsen St. Mary’s (9-1, 3-1 WEC) also received double-digit scoring from two of Jensen’s classmates, Carmindee Ricke and Claire Schroeder, who added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Some of those hard inside moves to the basket in the first half were fueled by converting defensive takeaways into offensive opportunities. The Hawks stretched a 16-5 edge by scoring its first two second-quarter baskets after Gehlen Catholic turnovers. Mya Bunkers’ steal led to Jensen’s driving basket while Schroeder had a steal/layup combination.

“Early in the game, I feel our percentage needs to go up,” said Willman. “We missed a few too many inside shots early. We need to do a few drills to make sure we get strengthened up and finish really good inside. We did better in the second half going for the offensive rebounds. We did a better job on both sides of the boards, defense and offense in the second half.”

Miyah Whitehead scored 10 points for Gehlen Catholic (3-9, 1-4 WEC) while Rysaiah Sitzmann added eight points. Coach Brandon Schaecher’s Jays struggled defensively and offensively under the basket. Sophie Ruden’s first-quarter steal led to Whitehead’s inside shot that pulled the visitors within 5-3, but from there, the Hawks went on an 11-2 run to end the opening quarter and from there, continued to pour it on.

“I thought we played good defense in half court, but then we didn’t box out,” said Schaecher. “We didn’t box out at all and that led to them getting a lot of extra chance shots. We helped them make them look pretty good by allowing them to get the open lane and by not boxing out for the extra shots.”

Jensen went into the game shooting 54.8 percent from the field while Ricke was at 52.5 percent. Both individuals shot better than 50 percent for last year’s 21-3 team which fell to Newell-Fonda in the Class 1A Region 2 finals. Defensively, this was the Hawks’ fifth game of allowing less than 30 points.

“We talked, we moved and we adjusted very well,” said Willman. “We stayed on the girl. We did better in those aspects that we have for some time.”

Meanwhile, the Jays fell to 0-6 when allowing more than 60 points. Offensively, the turnover bug continues to bite this squad which averages 39.3 points.

“We need to continue to find some identity,” said Schaecher. “We still don’t know who we are and who we want to be. The girls continue to get tight in situations and not play loose. We have to find a way around that.”

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