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Pirates make improvements, but not enough FTs fall in loss


The Gilman Pirates handled the ball much better than they did in their opener and got to the rim and the free throw line, but they didn’t knock down enough of those shots and fell 51-46 at Spencer Friday on the opening night of Eastern Cloverbelt Conference play.

Heavyn Kind scored 20 points, including a key 25-foot 3-point shot at the firsthalf buzzer that put the Rockets up for good, to lead her team to a close win over the Pirates for the second straight year. This one came in the first-ever varsity game played in Spencer’s new dome facility.

Gilman got 16 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots from Tatum Weir while falling to 0-2 overall.

“We improved on Friday,” Gilman head coach Tammy Weir said. “This was much better with only 15 turnovers. Still a little higher than I want, but we are heading in the right direction.”

That compared to 35 turnovers in the Pirates’ season-opening loss at Edgar three nights earlier.

The Pirates got off to a solid start Friday, building a 16-9 lead midway through the first half thanks to a 12-0 run. Down 9-4, Gilman got a three-point play from Tatum Weir and two free throws from Emma Grunseth. At that point, the Pirates were five of five from the free throw line.

Aubrey Syryczuk sank a 3-pointer to put the Pirates in front and Grunseth and Weir hit back-to-back baskets inside to push the lead to seven. Unfortunately for Gilman, the lead disappeared quickly as Kind scored twice, Amber Becker and Jorie Meyer added buckets and Rebecca Mlsna got a steal and score to put Spencer in front 19-16.

The Pirates got back to even at 25-25 when Syryczuk scored off a Grunseth assist. But with 4.3 seconds left, Kind was able to dribble the ball up the court with no pressure and swished her long, straight-on 3-point attempt at the horn.

Kya Dietzler scored for Gilman to open the second half and make it 28-27, but the Pirates just couldn’t ever get closer than that. A Weir free throw made it 35-33 with 9:40 left and her bucket cut it to 39-35 with 6:58 left.

But Spencer with a mini-run that gave the Rockets the breathing room they needed to put the game away. Madison Knecht’s offensive putback, a Kind jumper and another Knecht rebound made it 45-35.

“Our defensive boards need to improve,” coach Weir said. “Spencer had way too many second-chance shots. Seven of their 10 offensive rebounds were second-chance shots and they capitalized on them. Our aggressiveness on the defensive end needs improvement, which we will be working on continually.”

The Pirates also know they’ll need to get better at the free throw line. The Pirates were just 12 of 29, wiping out a huge advantage they had in the game. Spencer had just nine attempts and made four. The Pirates were just five of 16 in the second half.

“Our free throws were off in the second half, when we needed them,” Tammy Weir said. “The student section standing and waving their hands and hollering at the girls was unfair in my book and by the time we were able to get it out of our heads, it was too late.”

Madisyn James knocked down three of 10 3-point tries, including two in the late going to keep the Pirates close, and finished with nine points, three assists and two steals. Grunseth had eight points, eight rebounds and five assists. Syryczuk scored seven points and had three assists in her season debut. Hannah Vick was three for four from the free throw line and had four boards. Ava Warner had a point and two rebounds.

“Overall there was improvement on the floor,” coach Weir said.

Gilman hosted Loyal Tuesday in a game played after this week’s early holiday deadline for The Star News. The Pirates host Flambeau Monday at 6:30 p.m. in non-conference play before getting a major challenge on Dec. 2 with Neillsville coming to town for a 7:15 p.m. tip time.