Northland Pines junior guard Paige Hickson scored on this layup after getting a steal against Phillips.
Northland Pines junior guard Paige Hickson scored on this layup after getting a steal against Phillips.
The Northland Pines girls basketball team lost two games last week, including a 76-37 loss to Lakeland in a Great Northern Conference (GNC) game last Tuesday.

The Eagles also lost to New London 71-23 in a nonconference game Saturday. A game against Mosinee on Friday was postponed due to cold temperatures.

Against Lakeland, the Eagles trailed 54-26 at the half. 

“We had a little bit of an emotional letdown in this game,” said Pines coach Josh Olivotti. “This is something that the coaches knew was likely to happen at some point given that the past couple of weeks have been so good. The girls were just flat coming out of the gate and Lakeland plays a style that makes it pretty tough to come back from.”

The Eagles committed 22 turnovers in the first half against the Lakeland defense.

“We had been doing pretty well against pressure, but we committed 22 first half turnovers and reverted back to being anxious with the ball instead of reading the defense and making good passes,” said Olivotti. “Lakeland has the ability to turn teams over in bunches, and Melissa Bruckner has incredible anticipation to jump passes and get easy, open scores. She had 14 of her 18 in the first half and most came from the press.”

For Pines, Teresa Kopanski led the Eagles with 10 points, five rebounds and five steals. Sami Huelskamp had  14 points and four rebounds.

“We did get some good looks at the basket off the back end of the press and some secondary break action off ball reversals,” said Olivotti. “There were stretches where Teresa and Sami did a nice job creating shots and finishing for us. I was really pleased with how Sami stepped up in this game as our most vocal leader. She brought some energy to the floor and we need to make sure that we are matching that as a team.”

The Eagles played better in the second half, but still got out scored 22-11.

“Lakeland backed off the press in the second half and we were able to work some things in our zone offense,” said Olivotti. “We saw some really nice things within the two-player post game with Heather Wyatt and Taylor Olivotti. We can give ourselves a lot more scoring opportunities if we can handle the pressure better and get into a half-court set.”

Against New Long, the Eagles fell behind 42-13 at the half and only scored 10 points in the second half.

“We struggled against a strong New London team on Saturday. We had picked up this game knowing it is a tough program, but they play a lot of the teams from our Sectional and we don’t get this opportunity very often,” said Olivotti. “Not having practice due to the weather the day prior and not having a junior varsity game was part of what led us to being flat again. It’s not an excuse, just the situational elements that we need to control better.

“We never really found any rhythm this game and struggled with their ball pressure again,” said coach Olivotti. “We have to move the ball better, handle the pressure and be able to get the ball inside if we are going to score more consistently.”

Pines, 1-16 overall and 0-8 in the GNC, was scheduled to host Rhinelander this Thursday, Jan. 31, in a GNC game starting at 7:15 p.m. The Hodags led the conference with an 8-0 record and are 12-5 overall. The Mosinee game has been rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:15 p.m. at Northland Pines.