Lady Dutch down Tigers in BEC Tourney finals

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


BRITTANY SCHALLER (4) and Ashley Reinemann (2) of Howards Grove try to trap Oostburg’s Olivia Meerdink during Saturday’s BEC Basketball Tournament finals. The Tigers’ Olivia Stauss (right) watches. – Photo by Terry Schaller BRITTANY SCHALLER (4) and Ashley Reinemann (2) of Howards Grove try to trap Oostburg’s Olivia Meerdink during Saturday’s BEC Basketball Tournament finals. The Tigers’ Olivia Stauss (right) watches. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – The Oostburg Lady Dutch outscored the Howards Grove Tigers 13-4 in the final six minutes to earn a 49-40 win in the championship game of the inaugural Big East Conference Girls Basketball Tournament Saturday night at Lakeland College.

Second-seeded Oostburg, which shared the regular-season BEC title with the No. 1-seeded Tigers, upped their record to 16-4. HGHS, which defeated Oostburg, 60-47, early in the season, slipped to 18-3 and had a 10-game winning streak snapped.

Junior Marissa TenHaken came off the bench and buried a threepointer which gave the Lady Dutch the lead for good, 39-36, with 6:15 left. Aimee Bichler followed with a layup to give Oostburg a 41-36 advantage.

After Bichler’s steal on the Tigers’ next possession, Amy Toeller hit a jumper for a 43-36 lead.

HGHS pulled to within 43-39 after Addi Gerber’s perimeter basket and Brittany Schaller’s free throw but the Tigers were unable to get any closer.

Oostburg sank six free throws in the final 1:14 to seal the deal.

The Tigers were only 1-for-11 from the field in the last six minutes. For the game, HGHS shot only 24 percent from the field despite taking a lot of good shots.

“It’s a big honor to win the first Big East Conference Tournament championship. The atmosphere was great and the crowd was awesome,” said Oostburg head coach Lisa Immel.

“My girls stepped up huge. Even though they didn’t rebound the way we should’ve, they did what they had to do to come out with a win.

“These girls are not going to quit. They keep their composure. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Immel.

Junior forward Sam Yancy paced HGHS in scoring with 13 and rebounds with a career-high 19, including 10 on offense. The Tigers held a 40-29 rebounding edge, including an outstanding 19-3 advantage on offense.

“It was a tough game, especially since we were down a player [starting guard/forward Kaitlynn Near]. I wish we would’ve won but we did get part of the conference [regularseason championship,” said Schaller, a junior guard.

Near, a junior, missed the game due to a concussion.

“I thought we got good looks but couldn’t finish [shots] and we couldn’t get second shots [down the stretch]. We left it all out there.

“It would’ve been nice to have Kaitlynn in the game but we had a lot of people step up,” said Schaller.

“The team played good. We definitely missed Kaitlynn,” said Wade Georgeff, the Tigers’ acting head coach in place of his wife, Heidi, who had gall bladder surgery Wednesday and Friday.

Heidi Georgeff was able to attend Saturday’s game and sat on the Tigers’ bench as her husband filled in as the head coach.

“Kaitlynn gets after it on defense and does a good job of knocking down mid-range jump shots,” said Wade.

“We needed to knock down more shots from the perimeter to open up lanes to drive. We had good looks. Their defense was tough. They packed in their zone more than the last time we played them.

“We played fairly well on defense and boxed out well [on the defensive board],” said Wade.

Schaller led the Tigers in assists with four and steals, two. Olivia Stauss had three assists.


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