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Falcons drop season opener

The Abbotsford Falcons girls basketball team lost their first game of the year, 44-37, on Thursday, Nov. 21, falling to the Athens Bluejays in a road game between Marawood North rivals.

The Falcons lost four of their five starters to graduation - Kallie Falteisek, Melanie Kunze, Samantha Maganda and Marianna Castillo. All four seniors were selected as Marawood - North All Conference recipients, and their departure took the vast majority of last year’s offense.

It came as no surprise to first year head coach Ally Meserole that there would be a few hiccups on Thursday.

“We really have to work on our passing,” Meserole said after Thursday’s game. “We struggle giving our teammates a good pass and getting it in the shot pocket and letting them get a quick shot off. We really have to work on everyone being ready to shoot.”

Those shooting woes were on display in the first half against Athens, with Abby scoring just a handful of points. Turnovers and hesitation gave the ‘Jays an opportunity to build a 27-13 point advantage going into the second half.

But after a rough first half, the Falcons made second half adjustments, and this time it was the ‘Jays who struggled to find points, with Abby shutting down Athens’ outside shot.

“We were able to pick up their offense really fast,” Meserole said about her team’s improved defense. “They probably only ran their offense three times successfully, and then we were able to pick up that they were screening us at the high post, and then [Abby Van Rixel] was coming around and hitting a three pointer. They only got that maybe three times.”

Abbotsford’s defense was much improved in the second half, and after trailing by as much as 20, they began to fight back, cleaned up their turnovers and began to come together as a team.

As a result, the Falcons allowed just two Bluejays to score more than one basket, with Crystal Dearth leading Athens with 19 points. Dearth was the only ‘Jay in double digits.

As the team’s chemistry and communication improve, it’s surely only a matter of time before the wins start coming. The Falcons gave a brief flash of what could be in the second half as they outscored the ‘Jays by a margin of 24-17.

Leading the charge for the Falcons was senior Maggie Seefluth. Seefluth was held to just one basket, a triple, in the first half, but she made her presence known in her break-out game, scoring 17 points in the second half alone.

Seefluth drained three baskets from Down Town as she led all players with 20 points. Her game is something Meserole is hoping will continue to develop.

“Maggie did a phenomenal job of either finding an opening in the lane and driving or getting herself open on the three point line,” Meserole said.

Seefluth would be the only player in double digits for Abby, but she did get some help from Alea Graff and Catie Clement, who each scored six points.

Mya Ruesch added three points and Bridgett Pogodzinski scored two points to round things out.

The Falcons lost by just a handful of points, but after the game, Meserole was confident that her young was on the right path.

“I think the girls really learned how to play together, and that was what they said to me at the end of the game,” Meserole said.

“We’re still learning how to play as a team. Some of them have never played together, so that is a big positive to see them play together.”

The Falcons will take time off for the Thanskgiving break, and will then return to the court for a nonconference meeting with the Granton Bulldogs of the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

There will be no JV game, and tip-off will be at 6:30 p.m.