Indians girls hoops team finds their way back with Fort Atkinson tourney title
Robertson named tournament MVP
Menomonee Falls - To be blunt, this season for the senior-dominated, high-expectation Menomonee Falls girls basketball team has not gone exactly according to plan.
Injuries, some ill-timed shooting slumps and some extremely tough competition, especially in the Greater Metro Conference stunted the Indians' aspirations.
But on a pair of chilly winter nights in Fort Atkinson, on Dec. 28-29, the Indians got a chance to get better, sweeping past DeForest (58-46) and Lakeside Lutheran (58-32) to claim possibly the first holiday tournament title in team history.
"We just played really, really hard," Indians coach Craig Amundson said. "The funny thing was, was that we felt that we weren't playing defense as well as we could have, but the day before (the semifinal with DeForest) we had our best practice of the year. Things were going so well in it, that we adjusted the schedule of it and decided to push them a little more and it wound up helping … because our defense really helped us pull away at the end."
The two wins improved the Indians to 5-5 overall before they resumed GMC play against West Allis Central on Friday (see Sports Wrapups) and gave Falls a much needed boost.
"We're now looking forward to the second half of the season," Amundson said. "If we play with confidence, we can handle just about anything. As long as we play hard, there's no one we should be afraid of."
Amundson is hoping to be at full strength soon as both Anna Smalley and Erin Otzelberger have been battling injuries. Falls took on Homestead on Tuesday in its parents' night game and then are at West Allis Hale at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Indians also settled a year-old score in winning the tournament, as last year, they entered a game with Lakeside Lutheran 8-0 and lost a heartbreaker. This year, they were able to return the favor, as the Warriors had entered the game at 6-0.
But it was strictly no contest. The newly emboldened Indians shot out to a 16-8 first quarter lead and expanded it greatly by the half to 37-12.
"I looked at Brian (assistant coach Kirt) and said: 'Really, we're up on these guys 37-12? Is this really happening?' " Amundson said. "But defense was what it was really all about, because that's a great program, a great team. We adjusted our defense for this one. We went with a 1-3-1 (zone) after makes and a 2-3 after misses and because their main scorer was a post player we were able to get two people on her with that kind of set-up."
The Indians were led by eventual tourney MVP Mikayla Robertson who had 19 points and 11 rebounds while fellow all-tournament team selections Haley Precia (14 points) and Erin Crownover (13) also helped greatly.
Amundson also praised the efforts of Precia in another fashion as she had to handle the point much of the first half due to two quick fouls on Bullock.
"She just played tough as nails," Amundson said of Precia. "She really had to run the show."
Robertson was also a huge cog in the semifinal win over DeForest as she had 21 points and seven assists, but Amundson noted that her biggest contribution may have come defensively.
"It was actually fun to game plan that one," he said. "They have a nice veteran coach who's been there 24-25 years (Doug Pickarts) and a really nice sophomore point guard. We worked very hard at denying her the ball and Mikayla was a big part of that."
The game still went back and forth as the Norskies took an 11-8 first quarter lead before the Indians edged ahead 21-19 at the break.
Falls took the lead for good with a 21-13 surge in the third quarter as Crownover had 10 points and Bullock nine.
"It was a good effort altogether," said Amundson, who noted that the tournament was a fun experience all the way around as Fort Atkinson has invested in its facilities with a nice gym, atrium and library.
"Just a beautiful facility," Amundson added.
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