A slow start
Reigning conference champion Marshfield girls basketball is 1-3 on the young season
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield girls basketball team went undefeated in the Wisconsin Valley Conference last season and lost just three games, the last one coming in the WIAA Division 1 sectional finals, just one game away from the state tournament.
Fast forward to the start of this season, and things are not going quite as well for the Tigers.
Marshfield, which returned three starters and four key players from last year’s team, is playing without junior forward Hannah Meverden, who is out with an injury, and has not been able to find its groove through the early going.
With 18 games remaining, starting Friday night at Wisconsin Rapids, the season is far from lost. Head coach Heidi Michaelis said following the Tigers’ loss to Stevens Point in their Wisconsin Valley Conference opener on Tuesday that she is confident her team will rebound from an uncharacteristic 1-3 start to the year.
“It’s so early,” Michaelis said. “Most teams have seven or eight games in. We have four. There’s a lot of season to be played. Do I want us to (do) better than we were? Yes, I do, but we’re talking about four games out of 22. That’s a lot of games. Playing hard — whether shots are going in or not — plays a big part of it. If you have four people out of five on the same page or three out of five that are out there, it doesn’t work. We all have to be on the same page, and right now we’re definitely not. It’s a long season, a lot of time to get things corrected, and we will.
“It’s way too early to put your head down. I want to be the best we can at the end of the season and for sure not on Dec. 13. We’ll keep working.”
A common theme, and an unusual one at that for a Michaelis-coached team, has been the lack of defense. Marshfield has allowed more than 70 points and at least 24 made field goals in all three of its losses.
“If we don’t play defense better than that, and we don’t get stops and compound that by not rebounding, (it is) tough to win games,” Michaelis said. “In our three losses, we have given up over 70 points. That’s not how we’ve been able to be successful, and we have to figure out a way to play better team defense. Right now, we’re just struggling.”
While the Tigers have been OK on the offensive end, with senior Ema Fehrenbach averaging 19 points and senior Maddie Nikolai scoring 11 points per contest, they have been inconsistent.
Marshfield shot better than 50 percent in its opening two games but combined to go only 42 percent in its last two. The decline is a result, in part, of its defense not making stops and getting out in transition to score easy hoops.
“We’ve been able to score points, but if you continue to give up quick baskets on the other end, it doesn’t really matter how much you can score,” Michaels said. “We don’t have enough to outscore someone in the 70s. You have to be able to score, but then you have to come back and get three stops in a row. We have not done that. The result is, simply, we’re going to lose.”
Following Friday’s game at Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield will be home for its next three games: Dec. 20 against Merrill and for its annual holiday tournament on Dec. 28-29 against Hudson and Oshkosh North.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.