The opening game of the girls basketball season was a long time coming.
Moose Lake/Willow River spent much of Jan. 14 shooting from beyond the arc and picked up an 83-66 victory at Aitkin.
The Gobblers had a few rough patchesbut stayed in the game the entire way. Every time the Gobblers got close, though, the Rebels had the answer from the 3-point line.
Coach Donovan Daiker said Aitkin had its trouble spots.
“It really came down to a couple of things,” Daiker said. “We didn’t execute our offense, we turned the ball over way too often and we gave them too many second shots.
“We have to block out better on the defensive board,” he added.
Aitkin got the first score of the game from Rae Nyberg, who then hit a pair of buckets to put Aitkin up 8-3.
The Rebels’ Emily Bohnsack hit a trey and Monica Mikrot hit a basket and it was 8-8 at the 12:20 mark. That would be the last time the game would be that close, as the Rebels opened up from long range the rest of the first half.
Ally Ehnstrom scored off a missed free throw to close it to 16-14 but Mikrot hit another three to up the score to 19-14 with eight minutes left in the half. The two teams traded buckets until Bohnsack scored to make it 29-18 bringing a Gobbler timeout with 5:47 to go until intermission.
Sarah McMillan scored on a put back and Ehnstrom drained a three to close it to 29-23, but Skyla Thompson hit a trey that gave the visitors their biggest lead of the half at 35-25. Natalie Mikrot hit a three and Nyberg scored before Grace Stephenson closed out the half with yet another three and it was 41-27 at the break.
The Rebels opened the second half with four straight points before Teagan Piecek hit a three to make it 45-30. Two more Rebel scores brought a Gobbler timeout with 15:30 left. Another Monica Mikrot 3-pointer took the score to 52-31, and after Piecek hit another 3-pointer, Stephenson made it 55-34.
Nyberg went coast to coast after a steal and Piecek hit two more from 3-point land to cut the lead to 55-44 and bring a Rebel timeout with 10 minutes left. From there, the Rebels went on a 10-2 run.
“Watching the game, it came down to two big runs by the Rebels,” Daiker said. “We had four empty possessions twice and during those stretches they outscored us 15-0, (and) we lost by 17.
“A lot of good things happened in the game for us and I really feel we are heading in the right direction,” he added.
The Gobblers were led in scoring by Nyberg with 25 points, while Teagan Piecek had 23. Nyberg added 15 rebounds, while McMillan had 12 and Ehnstrom had 10.
Natalie Mikrot had 28 points to lead the Rebels while Monica Mikrot had 16.
Aitkin traveled to Detroit Lakes for Mid-State Conference action Jan. 16 and dropped a 50-39 decision to the Lakers.
“We played well,” Daiker said. “We had a game plan that worked well on the offensive end. They were able to take that away from us and I made an adjustment.
“We still struggle with adjustments on the fly which caused our offense to shut down,” he added. “If we can cut down on the turnovers (27 against the Lakers), we have a chance to win games.”
The Gobblers were even at 12-12 midway through the first half but only scored four points in the last six minutes while the much taller Lakers put up 15 to lead at the break 27-16.
Aitkin was led in scoring by Nyberg with 13 points, who also chipped in with eight rebounds. Ally Ehnstrom had 11 points and seven boards and Sarah McMillan added seven rebounds along with her seven points.
Aitkin hosts Pequot Lakes Friday.
Aitkin 16 23 – 39
Detroit Lakes 27 23 – 50
Moose Lake/Willow River 41 42 – 83
Aitkin 27 39 – 66