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Loyal burns the nets early, hangs on to defeat Pirates again


The Loyal Greyhounds remain a nemesis for the Gilman girls basketball team.

In a key early-season matchup in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference Nov. 26, Loyal got off to a blistering start from the outside, taking a lead it never relinquished in a 68-57 win over the host Pirates. The result left both teams at 1-1 in conference play, but the head-to-head win on the road could serve the Greyhounds well when final standings are determined over two months from now.

Loyal also swept Gilman a year ago, winning 57-47 at this same point of the season and then taking a 98-91 doubleovertime thriller in Loyal last January.

“We got off to a slow start last Tuesday,” Gilman head coach Tammy Weir said. “Loyal came out and shot six for seven on 3-pointers in the first seven minutes, so we got down 10-20 and we just couldn’t gain any ground. At one point in the second half we got it to seven points, but we just couldn’t gain enough momentum to get any closer.”

Loyal’s 3-point success stands out in the final statistics. The Greyhounds hit nine of 16 shots from long range, compared to Gilman’s four of 15. That 27-12 scoring edge loomed large. The teams were nearly identical inside the arc as Gilman was 15 for 37 and Loyal was 15 for 38. Gilman did get to the free throw line, making 15 of 22, while Loyal was 11 of 15.

Loyal held a slim 32-31 rebounding edge. Twelve of Gilman’s rebounds came on the offensive end. Gilman turned the ball over 19 times while forcing Loyal into 17 miscues.

“We had way too many turnovers,” Weir said. “We just can’t win against good shooting teams when they are able to turn our turnovers into points. So, we need to continue to improve our control and offensive possessions. Our rebounds were there, but we couldn’t turn our offensive boards into putbacks.”

Emma Warner had a double-double for Gilman, scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. She was six of 13 from the field and six of 11 from the free throw line. Grace Grunseth was the team’s scoring leader with 19 points. She added three rebounds, four assists and had seven of Gilman’s 11 steals.

“Grace and Emma both stood strong,” Weir said. “I couldn’t ask for any more from them.”

Emma Grunseth had a solid outing with seven points and six rebounds. Katelyn Schmitt, Lydia Syryczuk and Aubrey Syryczuk scored three points apiece. Schmitt hit a 3-pointer and had three rebounds. Aubrey Syryczuk had four rebounds and Lydia Syryczuk had a pair of assists.

Tatum Weir had a bucket, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Ava Gunderson had a hoop and a rebound.

This was just game one of a key threegame stretch of conference home games. Gilman hosts Neillsville tonight, Thursday, and defending league champion Colby on Tuesday. Both games tip at 7:15 p.m. Neillsville is off to another impressive start in league play with wins over Loyal and Owen-Withee. Colby doesn’t have the firepower it had last year, but has won two straight after an opening loss to Medford.

“We are preparing for Neillsville,” Weir said. “We will have to be on top of our game. The girls are mentally preparing themselves for the next few weeks.”