LINCOLN – A tough second quarter doomed the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team Wednesday at Lincoln Alcona.
The Cardinals (8-13) lost to Oscoda in the Class C district semifinal, unable to slow down the Owls' top post player, Kate Etherton, nor their timely 3-point shooting.
The Owls, who outscored J-L 26-11 in the second, advanced to face the host Tigers in the district championship at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2.
"I thought we did a good job of stopping their big girl (Etherton), and we knew they were going to be strong," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "Once we stopped her, their guards were nailing 3-point shots."
Etherton only made two baskets in the second, but J-L also sent her to the foul line four times. She was 7 of 8 shooting free throws and scored 12 points in the period alone.
Offensively, Oscoda limited senior starters Alicia Korff and Brooke McKenney to a combined two points, while Sydney Townsend ended with only four while suffering with the flu.
Alyce Vermilya picked up the slack by scoring 10 points, while Deanna Miller scored six, Jersey Layman and Tara Madej had four apiece and Hannah Collins added two.
"We were doing the right things on offense," Huff said. "The baskets just didn't fall tonight. I don't think we played bad at all. We just stopped making baskets, and it just snowballed from there."
The Cardinals expect to bring back a host of underclassmen and juniors next season, but they'll lose Korff, McKenney, Miller and Collins to graduation. The four have been the core of the team the past two seasons.
"I have some pretty good girls coming up from the JV that will fill in those spots, but we're going to miss them," Huff said. "Alicia is fast, and we'll miss her defense, and the same goes with Brooke and Hannah. They truly were more of defensive players than offensive players. But we'll definitely miss Deanna's offense, for sure."
Otsego County gearing up
for girls basketball district tournament
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
Cardinals hitting reset button when the postseason starts
Johannesburg-Lewiston spent most of the season sitting in third place in the Ski Valley standings. The two teams ahead of them were both state-ranked, so it was an admirable position for the young Cardinals, who play four underclassmen, to be in.
However, inconsistent play down the stretch has hurt their win-loss record, and games they normally would have won sometimes wound up as devastating losses. That included a five-game losing streak against conference opponents in January and February.
They will face Oscoda in the Class C district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Lincoln Alcona. The winner advances to face either Alcona or Whittemore-Prescott in the district championship at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2.
They'll look to get a bulk of their scoring from Brooke McKenney, Deanna Miller, Alicia Korff, Alyce Vermilya, Tara Madej and Sydney Townsend, while Jersey Layman, Elizabeth Eaton, Arielle Vermilya and Hannah Collins will provide support off the bench.
Snowbirds beat Cardinals in Rivals Rally, complete perfect SVC season
JOHANNESBURG – The St. Mary girls basketball team wrapped up a perfect 16-0 Ski Valley season Tuesday at Johannesburg-Lewiston.
The Snowbirds (19-1) forced 36 turnovers with their full-court pressure, eventually taking down the Cardinals 62-24 in their annual Rivals Rally showdown.
With its regular season completed, St. Mary is now off until it hosts either Vanderbilt or Burt Lake NMCA in the Class D district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28 in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
"I'm happy for the girls for the regular season they just completed," coach Pat Schultz said. "They've put in a boatload of work into what we've done because we completely overhauled our defense.
"The girls had a lot of learning to do this season, and it does take awhile to get used to what we're doing, but they did a great job at adapting to what we do."
The Snowbirds opened the game on a 17-3 run and never looked back.
Alex Hunter scored a game-high 21 points for St. Mary, while Averi Bebble added 11 and Emma Jo Cherwinski had nine.
The Cardinals (6-12, 5-9 SVC) had moments it could build off of going forward, including a 7-0 run in the second quarter, which included baskets from Alicia Korff and Sydney Townsend as well as foul shots from Hannah Collins and Alyce Vermilya.
"I told the girls that I know we got our butts whooped, but I can see some of the things we've been working on in practice show up in the game, and we're doing better," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We got to keep working on that and doing better.
"We did a lot better of a job boxing out this time from the last time we played them, and I think we're doing a better job in general."
Tara Madej paced J-L with six points, while Alyce Vermilya finished with five and Arielle Vermilya helped with four.
In the JV game, Megan Grusczynski finished with 17 points and six rebounds to help St. Mary beat J-L, 48-25.
Kinzie Jeffers added nine points and six steals, and Eliza Handley pitched in eight points.
J-L's Chloe House scored eight points, Morgan McVannel had seven and LaRissa Stephens added five.
Turnovers overshadow Cardinals' stellar defensive effort at Forest Area
Johannesburg-Lewiston couldn't get its offense to complement its stellar effort defensively Tuesday at Forest Area.
The Cardinals (6-9, 5-6 SVC) lost to the Warriors 47-38 in Ski Valley girls basketball play after it was unable to maintain their 22-21 halftime lead in the second half.
They allowed Forest Area to outscore them 15-6 in the third, a deficit they couldn't overcome in the fourth. They also committed 24 turnovers in the game.
"We worked our butt off on defense and did a nice job, but we'd throw it away and didn't make the passes we should have been making on offense," coach Heather Huff said. "That's been our nemesis in every game: We'd get steals in the full-court press, and then we'd throw it away.
"You work so hard to get that, and then we get impatient and throw it away."
Tara Madej scored 14 points, including 10 in the second half, while Brooke McKenney had eight and Sydney Townsend added seven. Hannah Collins scored four points, followed by Alicia Korff with three and Alyce Vermilya with two.
Cardinals hope to improve rebounding after tough loss to rival Snowbirds
GAYLORD – Johannesburg-Lewiston relies on four underclassmen to win games, so it's not a surprise when its girls basketball team experiences growing pains.
Friday's 53-28 loss to host St. Mary was one of those times, as the Cardinals (5-6, 4-4 SVC) allowed the Snowbirds to open the game on a 20-0 run, digging themselves into a big hole early.
They bounced back in the second quarter, though, even outscoring St. Mary 11-8 before entering halftime, but the damage was already done: a 28-11 deficit was too much to overcome in the second half.
"We haven't run into anybody who is that fast, and I think it took a minute to adjust to their speed," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "When they realized that they can play defense against (St. Mary's speed) and start taking shots, we finally started to have success. But we weren't even taking shots at the beginning of the game.
"In the first quarter, we weren't rebounding well, and St. Mary didn't miss either. If they did miss, they were putting it right back up because we let them get second and third shots, and that just can't happen."
Alyce Vermilya, who finished with four points, hit back-to-back jumpers to open the second quarter and finally snap J-L's scoring drought at 6:38.
Brooke McKenney buried a 3-pointer and also scored on a steal in transition, while Arielle Vermilya hit a jumper toward the end of the quarter to give the Cardinals more positives to build on.
"I told them at halftime that, minus that first quarter, we were doing things better," Huff said. "I know we still had turnovers tonight, but from where we started to where we finished, we had fewer turnovers and started rebounding better."
Huff said the biggest takeaway from the loss was her team needs to work on boxing out more consistently.
"Some of it is our size – we're small," Huff said. "The other part is getting where we need to be, boxing out, anticipating the ball and then hustling to it."
McKenney led with eight points, followed by Deanna Miller with five, Sydney Townsend with three and Alicia Korff, Arielle Vermilya, Tara Madej and Elizabeth Eaton chipped in two apiece.
Rough 2nd half dooms Cardinals against Central Lake
A lid on the basket in the third quarter and trouble at the foul line in the fourth doomed Johannesburg-Lewiston in a makeup Ski Valley game Monday.
Central Lake beat the host Cardinals 49-43 in a girls basketball game.
The Cardinals (5-5, 4-3 SVC) led 14-12 and 24-22 after the first and second quarters, respectively. But the Trojans held them to only four points in the third.
When J-L attempted its comeback in the fourth, it went only 4 of 16 from the foul line.
"They put a press on us in the third," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We broke it, and we had lay ups, but we missed some shots. Probably three times we'd break it, and they'd swat our shots, or they would get a hand on a loose ball a few times.
"We could have easily won the game if we would have made a couple more free throws. We were only 8 for 24 for the game."
Deanna Miller led J-L with 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter that gave the Cardinals a decent-sized lead. Her third 3 helped J-L trim its deficit to only three points with 1:30 left.
Sydney Townsend tacked on 12 points, followed by Tara Madej with six, Alyce Vermilya with five, Hannah Collins, Arielle Vermilya and Brooke McKenney with two apiece and Alicia Korff with one.
The Cardinals visit St. Mary for another conference game Friday, Jan. 19.
4 Cardinals in double digits as they beat Onaway
A 15-point deficit wasn't too much for the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team, which used great defense and foul shooting to beat visiting Onaway 67-59 in Ski Valley play Friday.
Kennedy Crawford's drives to the hoop in the first quarter helped Onaway gain a huge lead, but J-L (5-4, 4-2 SVC) switched to a 2-3 zone defense to slow her down.
J-L took a 32-29 lead into halftime and then went to the free throw line to complete the comeback (18 of 34).
Brooke McKenney was 7 of 10 from the foul line and finished with 17 points, Alyce Vermilya had 15 points, Tara Madej scored 12, Alicia Korff added 11, Sydney Townsend had six, Deanna Miller pitched in four and Arielle Vermilya had two.
"Kennedy Crawford was beating us in the middle with her driving, and she's fast," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We dropped back into a zone, and she couldn't do that anymore, and she got into foul trouble.
"Brooke made her foul shots when they mattered, and Alyce and Alicia hit key 3s."
Korff scored nine points in the second to ignite the comeback, while Townsend also had six pivotal free throws.
"Alicia had good put back shots where she boxed out and put them back in," Huff said.
Inconsistent play mars Cardinals in loss to Bulldogs
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team couldn't have asked for a better start to Wednesday's game.
The Cardinals cruised to a huge lead thanks to a 15-3 run. But with three minutes left in the first quarter, the wheels fell off, and they were never able to recover from their letdowns.
Inland Lakes topped J-L 52-42 in Ski Valley play, dropping the Cardinals to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference.
The Bulldogs used a 10-0 run to cap the first quarter – highlighted by six points from Mara Clancy – to take a 14-13 advantage into the second.
Clancy scored nine points – all 3-pointers – in the third to all but put J-L's comeback chances out of reach, as Inland Lakes led 43-31 going into the final eight minutes.
"I guess that's what has happened all year is that we have inconsistencies," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We play parts of the game really well, and then we give up the easy things.
"Like they'll take a shot, and we don't box out, and they'll get a second, third and fourth shot. That's unacceptable, and we have to do better.
"We traded baskets with them when we were trying to come back. That's unacceptable when we give up easy baskets, and we don't get the rebounds we should get when we're in position and don't come down with them."
Huff said she was frustrated because her Cardinals showed signs of being a great basketball team throughout the game.
During the first quarter, for instance, Alyce Vermilya came up with a pair of key baskets for J-L, while Deanna Miller seven of her 11 points and Sydney Townsend had two assists and two points while leading the team's transition offense.
Another highlight was Arielle Vermilya burying a tough 2-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to end what was a couple-minute scoring drought for the Cardinals.
The team was just too sporadic, Huff said. It just needed to play more consistent throughout the game.
"Tonight I just said: You have to decide to get better," Huff said. "I have faith in them, and I know they can. I know they will keep working hard.
"They just have to decide they want to do better. It's the same mistakes we're doing over and over – at least that's what it felt like tonight. So we'll keep working on it."
Clancy finished with 22 points.
Alicia Korff led J-L with 12 points, including nine in the second half, followed by Townsend with seven, Alyce Vermilya with five, Arielle Vermilya with three and Brooke McKenney and Tara Madej with two apiece.
The Cardinals host Onaway for conference game Friday, Jan 12th.
Cardinals tough out comeback win against Pellston
Points in the paint and smart play in the second half helped the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team earn a comeback win Wednesday at home.
The Cardinals (3-2, 2-0 SVC) overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to beat Pellston 39-33 in a Ski Valley game.
Tara Madej scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half, and J-L went on a 13-4 run in the third quarter to carry a 26-25 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Alicia Korff, Hannah Collins and Deanna Miller each made a late 3-pointer to ensure the Cardinals the win.
"We stopped fouling because we fouled a ton in the first half," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "They made six points on free throws alone right before halftime, so we reduced that in the second half.
"Tara had a good second half. She was getting rebounds and put-backs, and they were fouling her, and she was doing a good job on the boards."
Brooke McKenney scored seven of her nine points in the first half to keep J-L in the game.
The rest of the half was marred by sloppy defense and fouling for the Cardinals, who sent the Hornets to the foul line seven times, five of which turned into Pellston points.
Pellston led 17-7 and 21-13 after the first and second quarters, respectively.
"Our big downfall tonight was turning the ball over," Huff said. "We put the pressure defense on in the second half and didn't throw the ball away as much."
Korff finished with six points for J-L, Alyce Vermilya added three and Arielle Vermilya chipped in two.
Cardinals tighten defense to beat Mancelona on the road
Thanks to clutch free throws from senior Hannah Collins, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team secured a comeback win Friday at Mancelona.
The Cardinals (2-2, 1-0 SVC) topped the Ironmen 48-32 in their Ski Valley opener.
They trailed 24-22 at halftime but managed to play defensive more intensely in the second half, ultimately outscoring Mancelona 16-3 and 10-4 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
Collins, who finished 6 of 6 from the foul line, made four free throws down the stretch to halt any chances of an Ironmen comeback attempt.
"She was clutch," J-L coach Heather Huff said.
Mancelona managed to get past J-L's full-court defense in the first half, so Huff had her team fall back into a compact zone to kick start the second-half rally.
"We changed things up on defense and played smarter ball and got aggressive," she said. "We played a really aggressive zone and anticipated the ball.
"Instead of pressuring up front, we dropped back into a half court zone. That made them (Mancelona) settle down offensively."
J-L's two freshmen, Sydney Townsend and Tara Madej, led the scoring with 12 and 10 points apiece.
Madej showed her dominance in the paint as a tall post player.
"She had eight of her 10 points in the second half and six in the third alone," Huff said. "She made strong power moves to the basket. She was doing what I've seen her do in practice but what I haven't quite seen in a game yet."
Alicia Korff added eight points and eight rebounds, Alyce Vermilya and Collins each had six points and Arielle Vermilya and Brooke McKenney had three apiece.
Boyne City's size, strength too much for Cardinals in home loss
Boyne City had strength and aggressiveness.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team couldn't offset either of those things in its 54-21 loss to the visiting Ramblers in non conference play Wednesday.
"They're a very physical, strong team," said J-L coach Heather Huff, whose team is 1-2. "They played very aggressively, and we didn't handle their pressure very well."
Hannah Collins, who was 2-for-2 shooting, and Alyce Vermilya led the Cardinals with five with points apiece. Jersey Layman had four points, Tara Madej, Arielle Vermilya and Alicia Korff each pitched in two and Sydney Townsend scored one.
The Ramblers took a 31-9 lead into halftime. J-L didn't turn things around until the fourth quarter, as it outscored Boyne City 11-6 in the period.
"We played better in the fourth quarter," Huff said. "In the second half, we adjusted to their pressure and handled it better, but we had too many turnovers.
"They were ripped (physically). They looked like soccer players – big, strong, taller and more physical."
J-L visits Mancelona to begin Ski Valley play Friday, Dec. 8.
Cardinals undersized, inexperienced in loss to Red Devils
Outsized and inexperienced.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball faced both those problems in their 52-22 loss Friday at East Jordan.
Brooke McKenney scored eight points, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Cardinals (1-1) only scoring six points in the second half.
"I knew we had our work cut out for us, but if we had gotten to go on a run, we would have been OK," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "Their girls were twice our size. They made us turn the ball over, and we missed baskets we should have made."
East Jordan lead 28-16 at halftime.
"We played pretty well in the first half, but we were very outsized and out experience," Huff continued.
Alicia Korff added five points, followed by Alyce Vermilya with four, Jersey Layman with two and Tara Madej with one.
Cardinals shake early nerves, beat Fairview on opening night
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team shook its opening-night jitters quickly Tuesday.
The Cardinals (1-0) missed a handful of easy shots in the first half but rebounded to down host Fairview, 42-13.
Seniors Brooke McKenney and Alicia Korff led with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Sydney Townsend added nine.
"In the first half, we had that type of first game of the season where you miss some of the easy ones," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We came out in the third quarter and played very strong – it was probably our best quarter."
The Cardinals held a 26-10 halftime lead.
They limited Fairview to only one point in the third.
"Our defense made quite a few turnovers happen," Huff said. "We got a lot of shots on fast breaks, so our press worked well for us."
Also scoring were Alyce Vermilya and Tara Madej, who each added four points, while Hannah Collins and Jersey Layman had two apiece.
J-L visits East Jordan for a non conference game Friday. It'll be playing without Deanna Miller, who suffered an ankle injury in practice Monday. Huff said the senior will likely miss four to six weeks.
Outlook: Youth and inexperience could rear its head for the Cardinals, as they graduated three of their top four offensive players from a year ago and have welcomed the addition of four underclassmen to the roster. Only five players – seniors Alicia Korff, Hannah Collins, Deanna Miller and Brooke McKenney – have considerable varsity experience, but the athleticism they're gaining from freshmen Sydney Townsend and Tara Madej and twin sophomores Alyce and Arielle Vermilya could be enough to help the Cardinals compete against St. Mary for the Ski Valley title.
2016-17 Record: 8-14 (6-10 SVC)
2016-17 Finish: Lost to Lincoln Alcona in the Class C district final, 45-35.
Key Returners: Alicia Korff, Deanna Miller, Brooke McKenney.
Key Losses: Haley McVannel, Taylor Kroll, Claire Huber.
Key Additions: Tara Madej, Sydney Townsend.
No. - Name - Grade - Height
3 - Brooke McKenney - 12th - 5-6
4 - Alyce Vermilya - 10th - 5-6
10 - Alicia Korff - 12th - 5-5
12 - Arielle Vermilya - 10th - 5-6
14 - Deanna Miller - 12th - 5-1
20- Hannah Collins - 12th - 5-5
22 - Jersey Layman - 11th - 5-5
30 - Tara Madej - 9th - 5-11
33 - Elizabeth Eaton - 11th - 5-7
44 - Sydney Townsend - 9th - 5-5
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