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Turnovers, full-court press doom MCHS in loss to Woonsocket

For the Mitchell Christian girls' basketball team, facing a full-court press is almost inevitable given how young and inexperienced the Eagles are, especially considering they start a 5-foot-2 seventh grader at point guard.

MCHS falls to Woonsocket
Matt Bunke/Republic Mitchell Christian's Meghan Dixon, right, and Woonsocket's Sarah Fouberg scramble after a lose ball during the second quarter of Tuesday's game at Mitchell Christian School.

For the Mitchell Christian girls' basketball team, facing a full-court press is almost inevitable given how young and inexperienced the Eagles are, especially considering they start a 5-foot-2 seventh grader at point guard.

But rarely this season has the press caused as many problems for the Eagles as Woonsocket's did Tuesday.

Woonsocket forced 29 turnovers -- most of them in the backcourt -- as the Redmen beat Mitchell Christian 50-36 at Mitchell Christian School.

"If we could have kept our turnovers down, we definitely could have been in the game," Mitchell Christian coach Jackie Van Laecken said. "We expect that full court press every team we play. We just have to get better and better and get more confident with it."

Midway through the first quarter, the Eagles and Redmen were tied at 5, but over the last 12 minutes of the first half, Woonsocket created separation with a 21-6 run. Woonsocket forced 19 turnovers in the first half alone, often forcing turnovers in the Eagles' backcourt and rarely allowing Mitchell Christian to set up in its offense. Even after missed field goals, Woonsocket was frequently able to generate pressure in the backcourt.

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"That's kind of our game plan every game," Woonsocket coach Rob Baruth said. "We're a smaller team and we're quicker, so we have to take advantage of that and see if we can get some turnovers in the backcourt and generate some points up front."

With Woonsocket up 7-5, Kelsey Schmidt and Sarah Fouberg hit back-to-back threes to close the first quarter. A Makenzie Van Laecken three to open the second quarter slowed the Redmen's momentum a bit, but a 7-0 run for Woonsocket -- which included points from four different players -- helped the Redmen pull away. Woonsocket led 26-11 at halftime.

Mitchell Christian managed to calm down a bit in the second half, when the Eagles actually outscored Woonsocket 25-24 and turned the ball over only 10 times. But the damage had already been done, and Mitchell Christian was never able to cut the deficit to fewer than 12 points.

Olson led Woonsocket with 22 points -- 13 of which came after halftime -- and six rebounds. Schmidt added 14 points.

"I think (Olson) had a very good game," Baruth said. "She did a nice job and got us going early in the game."

Mitchell Christian was led by 14 points from Van Laecken. Nathasha Klumb had a team-high eight rebounds and Van Laecken and Mariah Nelson both had seven.

Woonsocket is now 6-7 and will play Wolsey/Wessington Friday in Wolsey. Mitchell Christian is 2-12 and will host Plankinton Thursday at the Corn Palace.

"We need to cut down on those turnovers for Thursday and take it at Plankinton a little bit more," Van Laecken said. "We know that's another game we can be in, so we just need to continue to work our offense, bring in some new things for Thursday and keep pushing through."

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