NEW ULM - The New Ulm girls' basketball team had two big obstacles to overcome if it was going to find success against Glencoe-Silver Lake on Saturday - Clarissa Ober and Steph Klockmann.
Ober made her presence felt by shutting down the Eagles' offense near the basket, and Klockmann was equally dominant in pacing the Panthers' offense with 18 points as GSL put together a 51-29 non-conference victory.
"I'm very proud of how hard they played," New Ulm head coach Matthew Dick said of his players. "Throughout the whole game, no matter what the score was, they played hard. They played as if it was a very tight game and they had a chance to win, and I'm really, really proud of that."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Elizabeth Rummel battles for a rebound with Clarissa Ober (13) and Courtney Wolff of Glencoe-Silver Lake during Saturday’s game at New Ulm High School.
The Panthers did most of their damage in the first half, taking a 30-6 lead into halftime. After seeing hardly any of their shots fall in the first half, the Eagles bounced back to outscore GSL 23-21 in the second half.
"[Ober] didn't play as much in the second half, so that opened up the inside for us," Dick said. "We got inside quite a bit in the first half, but she was there just to put it right back. She's a tall girl, she's going to South Dakota State University on a scholarship, she's a great player... Her in the middle prevented a lot of things that we'd like to try to do, when she was out we were able to do those things."
Klockmann wasted little time getting the Panthers on the scoreboard, scoring just seconds after the opening tip-off. GSL immediately started pressing the Eagles, forcing Dick to call a time out to get his players ready to run their press break.
"It just had been about four or five games since we'd been pressed - in practice we can't simulate what's going to happen here, so when they threw that on they were shell-shocked right away," Dick said. "But we made the adjustment, we got the ball up... we got some decent looks at the shots, we just couldn't knock any down."
New Ulm sophomore Alley Grejtak hit a long jumper to tie the game at 2-2 on the Eagles' first press break, but an 18-0 GSL run that included eight points from Klockmann and four points from Ober gave the Panthers control of the game.
On top of having to break the GSL press, the Eagles were faced with moving the ball through a sea of Panther hands in the passing lanes when they were running their offense.
"It was tough, but as we worked together further in the game, we found out how to get through," New Ulm junior Briana Sieve said. "We're just working on it and trying our best."
Eagles junior Ellie Schneider ended the Panthers' 18-0 run by corralling her own rebound after a missed shot and successfully converting a three-point play on her second attempt. However, the only other point New Ulm scored in the half came on a free throw by Molly Shaul.
"Execution-wise against their pressure defense, we struggled, but at halftime we talked about it a bit, I think we did a few things better in the second half," Dick said. "They're a good team, their record is very deceiving because of the schedule they play."
Klockmann - easy to spot on the floor with her fluorescent orange shoes - scored eight of her team's first 15 points in the second half as the Panthers pulled ahead 45-13.
The Eagles largely held the GSL offense in check during the final 10 minutes though, ending the game on a 16-6 run.
Hunter Ahlness turned a steal into a breakaway layup to begin New Ulm's strong game-ending run, after which she converted the and-one attempt on the play.
Ahlness added a long 2-pointer later in the game, with Kirsten McDonald capping the run by making a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining.
In total, seven Eagles players contributed points in the second half, with Taylor Bolduan and Kelsey Anderson each making a 3-pointer.
It was the Eagles' fan appreciation game, with the players signing autographs for fans after the contest.
"Thank you all for supporting us," Sieve said as a message to the team's fans. "We really appreciate it, and we're trying our best and staying positive."
Schneider had a team-high seven points for New Ulm. Ahlness added five points and Grejtak and Rummel contributed four points apiece.
Ober was second on the scoresheet for the Panthers with eight points, with Madison Monahan and Samantha Lange each adding six points. The win was GSL's third of the season.
New Ulm will have a busy schedule next week, beginning with a game on the road against Marshall on Tuesday. The Eagles will then travel to Blue Earth Area on Thursday before returning home to face Sibley East on Friday.
"We're confident about it, we have a positive attitude," Sieve said of the team's upcoming week. "We're just going to try our best and work toward our goals."