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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Menominee Slips Past Marinette In Overtime

The Menominee Maroon girls basketball team slipped by host Marinette 49-48 Friday night in game stacked with story lines and more than a little bit of drama over four quarters and an overtime session.

For starters, this latest installment of the cross-river squabble featured the first matchup between new Marinette coach Lukas Maulding and his old team, now led by head coach Lucas Chouinard.

Would Maulding’s familiarity with the Menominee system make up for what looked, on paper anyway, to be a lopsided matchup, with the Maroons victorious in all but one of their games this season while the Marines had managed just one win? Could the Marines handle the paint presence of Amanda Pedersen? Could Menominee contain the always hot-handed Amanda Lesandrini?

The homecourt fans were smiling early as the Marines opened up a 3-1 lead but a drive into the lane by Menominee’s Allison Barley that went for a bucket and another point from the line put the Maroons up by one.

And the race was on.

Barley made it 6-3 Menominee shortly after with a pull-up jumper from 15 feet out and then extended her team’s lead even further with a drive to the hoop that saw the 5’3 guard score despite close coverage by two Marinette defenders.

Down 8-3, the Marines needed a spark. And that is when Lesandrini made her first bit of noise in what would turn out to be a very loud evening of scoring by nailing a three to get Marinette to within a field goal at 8-6.

The Maroons answered with another bucket from Barley but they couldn’t keep their once-comfortable lead as Lesandrini closed the game’s opening quarter with another three pointer as the buzzer blared to bring the score to 10-9.

“Our offense finally showed up,” said Maulding. “We had been averaging around 26 points a game so to come out and put up 48 in this one was really nice. Everything was clicking tonight and it was good to see the girls playing with a lot of confidence.”

Marinette began the second quarter with a statement play on defense as Keisha Stuart stole possession away from the Maroons and broke for the other end of the floor. Stuart wasn’t able to convert the free throw attempts that ensued, the Marines had trouble at the line all night and finished 13 of 21 from the stripe, but her steal set the tone for Marinette’s push for the lead.

Lesandrini’s ridiculous outside shooting touch added yet another layer to her team’s confidence level moments later when she spotted up right in front of the Menominee bench and hit a three to put Marinette back in the lead at 12-10. Up next was more tenacious play from Marinette as a Lesandrini steal turned into a pull up jumper for teammate Cassandra Hilbert at the other end, drawing a timeout whistle for Menominee as the Maroons walked back to their bench staring up at a 14-10 deficit.

But the dramatic theme of this game took a turn in Menominee’s favor to close out the half as the Maroons went to work on offense. The visiting team got scores from Karli Barley, Samantha Krah and Pedersen to get back on track and head into the locker room at halftime with the score tied at 16.

It was more of the same in the second half. Menominee bolted ahead to a 25-18 lead, highlighted by some nice shooting from Courtney Conery before Lesandrini put an end to the drought with yet another shot from outside that cut Menominee’s advantage to 25-21.

The Maroons tightened up on defense and finished the third period ahead 33-24.

In what felt like a must-score possession to start the fourth for Marinette, Stuart delivered with a strong drive into the lane that went for two despite the fact that she had a pair of defenders in her face. The Maroons, keeping their cool throughout all of this highlight-reel scoring from the home team, answered with an Allison Barley basket to stretch their lead to 35-26.

Marinette needed another big play at this point and another big play is what it got from Lesandrini as the senior guard banked in another shot from long distance, cutting the deficit to six. From there, it was Marinette’s Alexandria Cording providing the fireworks the team needed to get back into it. The sophomore guard scored on a jumper, making it 39-37 before adding a steal to her stats that ended up in more Marinette points as Hilbert converted one free throw at the other end to get it to within one.

To say that the rest of regulation play was nail-biting would be putting it pretty mildly.

After a Menominee timeout at 39-38, the Maroons found themselves up by three with less than a minute to go thanks to a pair of clutch free throws by Allia Stewart.

But the Marines got it back to even at 41 on another three from Lesandrini that took its time getting through to the bottom of the cords, bouncing around on the rim several times, every fan in the building on their feet with both hands on their head, before falling with 15 seconds showing on the clock.

But Menominee’s Stewart put the home court crowd back into their seats six seconds later when she catapulted her team into the lead once again with a great drive to the bucket, drawing the foul, which converted for the extra point.

Eight and a half seconds remaining and a three-point gap on the scoreboard. And, given the way this contest had played out so far, what happened next was probably inevitable.

Hilbert had the ball up high on the wing and, naturally, it was looking like the Marines were trying to get Lesandrini loose for the tying shot. But, with time running out, Hilbert ended up dishing it to Stuart, who was way beyond the line at the top of the arc and open.

Stuart let it fly and the shot banked in to tie the score at 44 just as the horn sounded on the fourth quarter.

The back and forth continued in the 4 minute overtime frame as neither team seemed to be slowing down. The Marines made up an early two-point deficit with a bucket from Stephanie Corry down low, only to have Menominee answer with a jumper from Conery. Marinette got a glimpse at double overtime when Hilbert scored on a drive to the lane and got fouled in the process. She missed the free throw but the Marines got the board and called a timeout.

This set up another opportunity for drama as Lesandrini, who tallied a career-high 21 points in the game, would fire a deep three pointer but come up short with the clock winding down. Taylor Roman came away with the rebound on Lesandrini’s missed shot and the Maroons were able to make the trip over the bridge with a victory in the bag.

“We played great defense tonight and that helped keep us in it,” said Maulding after the game. “We’ll be able to build from this performance. The only way to go from here is up for us.”


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