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Colby title hopes dashed

The Colby Hornets girls basketball 2019-20 campaign has been something of a roller coaster ride, with Colby’s season punctuated with peaks and valleys.

The Hornets experienced a valley last week, losing to Neillsville on the road on Thursday. Neillsville cemented their status as the top team in the Eastern Cloverbelt, wresting the conference title from the hands of Colby with a 68-42 victory.

The Warriors raced out to an 11-0 lead before a beautiful reverse lay-up from Hailey Voelker finally put Colby on the board. Voelker was fouled during the play, and her “And-1” made it 11-3 with 12:30 to play in the first half.

The Warriors went inside to generate points, turning to Bella Opelt to get inside and score against Colby’s match-up zone. Opelt scored 13 of her game high 20 points in the first frame. Seven Warriors added points in the first half.

This was in stark contrast to Colby, who had just three players score in the first period. It was nearly enough as Voelker and Emma Peavey hammered Neillsville midway through the first half, snapping off a 9-2 run that pulled Colby within five at 17-12 with 9:00 to play.

The Hornets shut down the interior, and kept the game close, with Peavey nailing a three to make it 23-18, but Neillsville extended its lead, scoring on an offensive put-back in the waning seconds to secure a 31-22 lead at the break.

That last second bucket that created a spark as the Warriors came running out of the locker room like a thoroughbred horse, galloping away from Colby as they began the second half with a 14-2 run that made it a 45-24 ball game.

Lexi Krebsbach broke the streak with a three, and she added two more triples in the second half, but Colby continued to struggle to get defensive stops.

Colby’s offense also struggled, with only four players scoring. Voelker was clinical from the charity stripe, sinking nine of 11 attempts on the night, but outside of Krebsbach and Voelker, the rest of the Hornets’ cast had just three points as the Warriors out-scored Colby 37-20 in the final frame.

Voelker finished with a team high 17 points and ten rebounds. The future Lake Superior State Laker now stands just 14 points shy of one thousand for her career.

Peavey dropped 13 points on the Warriors, and had two assists and two steals. Krebsbach added a pair of assists to go with her nine point night.

Olivia Vollrath added two points and Brooke Suckow chipped in with one point as the Hornets went five of 18 from three and eight of 26 on their two point field goals.

The loss drops Colby to 11-7 on the year, and 9-5 in the Eastern Cloverbelt. The Hornets have conference match-ups with Spencer and Granton awaiting, along with a non-conference clash with Marathon, and then the Cloverbelt Crossover.

Colby will look to iron out the wrinkles in their game, and while a third conference title is gone, there is still plenty to play for as the post-season beckons.