By Kelsie Hoitomt and Shawn DeWitt
BOYCEVILLE – The Lady Bulldogs’ basketball schedule is a buzz saw. It will either sharpen the ladies skills and talents or cut them down.
The Dunn-St. Croix Conference itself should supply Boyceville with plenty of competitive games but then add in a non-conference schedule that includes three conference champions including two-time state titlist Eau Claire Regis, and it’s a daunting 22-game task.
“Brutal,” said Boyceville head coach Jolene Bird of the Lady Bulldogs non-conference schedule. “Cameron’s a conference champ, we have Ladysmith, we have Regis, Osceola next week, and then Somerset after that.”
But Bird is not one to shy away from a challenge.
“I have always had the motto ‘To be the best, you have to play the best,’ ” said Bird.
And that is just what Bird’s Bulldogs intend to do.
Boyceville opened the season with a solid 42-32 home conference win against a good Elk Mound squad November 20.
The Bulldogs then looked to carry that momentum and success into the first of those non-conference tests when Cameron came to the Dog House on Monday, November 26. But the Comets, behind a strong second-quarter effort, streaked to a 70-54 victory that left the Bulldogs with a 1-1 mark.
Cameron 70, Boyceville 54
Boyceville battled Cameron to a first-quarter deadlock but early foul trouble and the Comets’ strong transition game proved more than the Bulldogs could overcome.
Despite 19 and 16 points respectively from sophomore guards Brooklynn and Abbey Bird, the Bulldogs were unable to undo Cameron’s 26-11 second quarter run as the Comets registered a 70 to 54 non-conference win in Boyceville November 26.
Boyceville was able to stay even with Cameron in the first eight minutes of play despite having both its post players – senior Kysa Franseen and junior April Lake – on the bench with foul trouble. Franseen had picked up three fouls in the first four minutes of play.
Blaser and Bird accounted for nine of the Bulldogs’ ten first-quarter points to keep the contest knotted after one period.
The game would not stay that way for long.
The Comets own guard duo of McKensie Otto and Chloe Wanink caught fire in the second period and helped to put Cameron in front to stay. Wanink scored 12 of her first-half 18 points in the second while Otto chipped in for seven points as did the Comets’ athletic center Hannah Bailey. Cameron outscored Boyceville 26-11 in the period to take a 36-21 lead into the intermission.
“Cameron has some solid and skilled players,” Bird noted. “I thought we played well with them in the first quarter. If we could have held out through foul trouble and bought us some time we might have been okay but it just got away from us (in the second quarter).”
“We kind of got away from things that we have been taught to do like how to contain and what we needed to do,” said Bird. “That happened because we do not have a lot of experience on the floor. There are things that we need to learn from and get better at.”
Cameron grew to 22 points in the third quarter before Boyceville made a run at the end to narrow the deficit to 17 points as the game headed to the final quarter.
Brooklyn Blaser hit a field goal and sank five of six free throws, Abbey Bird tallied three baskets and a charity toss, and Katelyn Merten, Kysa Franseen, and April Lake each tallied a bucket to pull the Bulldogs to within eight points at 58-50 with under four minutes to play. But the Comets transition game help reignite the offense and Cameron finished the game on a 12-4 run for the 70-54 victory.
“The goal was not to give up transition baskets and on the first play of the game we give one up,” said Bird. “After you work on it and work on it, it is kind of frustrating. But when they have a 6’ post player (Hannah Bailey) that just outlets the ball to half court it pretty easy to have a nice transition game and is athletic on top of it.”
Bailey kept her teammates well supplied with well placed outlet passes and scoring opportunities. Chole Wanink and McKenzie Otto finished with 25 and 23 points respectively due in part to Bailey’s boarding and passing accumens. She also added 11 points to the Cameron total.
In addition to Blaser’s and Bird’s point totals, five other Bulldogs accounted for points. Franseen finished with six, Merten had five, Michaella Kegen and Lake had three and Kennedy Hellmann scored two.
Boyceville 42, Elk Mound 32
The Boyceville girls tipped off the basketball season with a key and convincing win as they defeated the Elk Mound Mounders, 42-32, in the home and conference opener on Tuesday, November 20.
The Bulldogs played consistent on offense, but the first game jitters were more apparent defensively as they had 28 turnovers.
“Defensively we did some really good things. We were physical with their post players and showed a lot of hustle from our guards. Offensively we had well-rounded contribution. Brooklynn Blaser was very consistent at the guard position. We still had too many turnovers but it was the first game of the season. Hopefully as the season progresses we can eliminate some of those,” shared head coach Jolene Bird.
Senior Kysa Franseen led the team on defense as she collected two steals and blocked two shots and had seven rebounds along with three rebounds on offense.
April Lake also was a key component under the net as she got her hands on six offensive rebounds and four defensive rebounds and blocked two shots as well.
The Bulldogs were just above average with their freethrows as they sunk eight out 14 attempts at the line.
Offensively, Abbey Bird tore up the court as she had 11 two-point shot attempts and six three-point attempts.
Bird was also the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with a total of 14 points from four deuces and two triples.
Also scoring for the Bulldogs were Franseen with eight points, Lake with six points, Kennedy Hellmann and Brooklynn Blaser each with five points and Alexa Peterson with four points.
Also suiting up for the Lady Dogs were Katelyn Merten and Michaella Kegen.
The Bulldogs had control of the score throughout the entire game as they led in every quarter.
The score was 25-14 going into the half and they held onto their ten-point lead going into the fourth quarter as well as the score was 36-26 and then finally 42-32.
After a pair of home contests to start the season, Boyceville hit the highway for four straight games staring this Thursday, Nov. 29 in Plum City. The Bulldogs will then travel to Osceola for a non-conference game on Dec. 3 before playing a crucial conference game in Colfax on Dec. 7. The road trip will wrap up on Dec. 11 with yet another non-conference battle in Somerset.