Originally Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012, 10:58 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 27, 2012, 11:32 pm

Geese hold off Steamers to stay perfect in Warkins girls' tourney

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
Ridgewood's Catie Allen and Erie's Rachel Cobert battle for control of a rebound during the Warkins Cardinal Classic girls basketball tournament in Erie Thursday evening. Ridgewood's Molly Jo Smith closes in on the action.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
Wethersfield's Kristen Parsons soars up for a layup during the third quarter of play Thursday evening as Fulton's Katherine Wayne defends during the Warkins Cardinal Classic girls basketball tournament in Erie. Wethersfield won the game 67-60.

ERIE — The last time the Wethersfield girls' basketball team got a wake-up call like it did Thursday night, it embarked on its current nine-game winning streak.

And while the Lady Geese added to that skein with their 67-60 victory over Fulton at the fourth annual Cliff Warkins Memorial Cardinal Classic, Wethersfield coach Becky Ince said her club was lucky to escape with a 3-0 pool-play record.

"First of all, give credit to Fulton," Ince said of the 6-12 Steamers. "They're like one of those underdog teams that mentally feels like it has nothing to lose. They were diving after loose balls and concentrating on breaking our pressure. We talk about putting together 32 minutes of basketball; maybe we put together 15.

"But it's like our loss against West Central in that hopefully this is a wake-up call. This does show we can get through adversity."

Led by another superb performance from senior guard Sarah Hansen (26 points, five 3-pointers), the Geese (14-3) used a big third-period push to overcome a 29-28 halftime deficit and looked ready to run away after going up 58-48 midway through the fourth quarter.

However, the Steamers refused to quit. Led by senior forward Morgan Wierema's 21 points, Fulton closed the gap to five points on four occasions over the final two minutes of the game but could never get closer.

"This is probably the best, the most complete game we've played all year," said Fulton coach Jesse Abbott, who also got 18 points from Morgan Sanquist. "We played a complete game against a top-tier team, and I'm proud of them for that."

Balanced scoring and some key buckets from reserve Debbie Hager helped make the difference for the Lady Geese. Kodi Hammer netted 13 points, with Aly Eastman bagging 11 and Caitlin Miller adding 10 points to help Wethersfield set up today's 6 p.m. showdown with Monmouth-Rosevillefor the right to advance to Saturday's 6 p.m. championship game.

Monmouth-Roseville (9-5) also remained perfect in its pool after handling Mercer County 60-28. Senior forward Jordain Johnson scored a game-high 20 points, leading a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Titans.

Michaela Baker's 11 points led the Golden Eagles, who trailed just 11-10 after the first quarter. But Johnson heated up in the second period with a trio of 3-pointers to help the Titans take a 30-17 halftime lead.

"We know what we have to do to get in the finals," said Mon-Rose coach Jim Cole, whose team won the first Warkins girls' title in 2009. "We just have to take care of business and see what (today) looks like."

Knoxville moved to 3-0 in the tournament with a 63-32 victory over Galva, holding the Lady Cats' senior star Alex Strom to 12 points. Tessa Jones' game-high 21 points paced the Blue Bullets, with Kelly Lenz adding 17 as they turned a slim 18-17 lead after the first period into a 38-23 halftime advantage.

Erie (10-5) also stayed in the hunt for a possible title-game berth, battling past Ridgewood 57-44 in a foul-plagued game in which the teams combined to shoot 63 free throws. Junior guard Courtney Cobert's game-high 19 points led the way for the Cardinals, with Desirae Lawson adding 11 and Laykin Miner 10. The Spartans' Ashley Collins had 16 points and five treys.

"This was a great bounce-back effort. The girls played with a lot more energy," said Erie coach Brian Howell. "We're at 10 wins now, and we have the chance to do something special."

Rockridge (6-9) earned its second straight tourney win by stifling Morrison 49-25 behind Miranda Potter's 18 points, with Destiny Grawe adding 13. Down 6-0 after the first quarter, the Rockets' defense clamped down, holding the Fillies to nine points over the next two quarters.

"Even though we didn't score early on, we were doing some good things," said Rockridge coach Shawn Strachan. "I thought we came to play, and if we continue to play defense like that, we're going to do OK."