Thunder bounce back after first loss

Sports Director

by Eric Oslund

Sports Reporter

The Zimmerman Thunder girls basketball team lost their first game of the season, after starting 3-0, back on Dec. 10. They traveled to Grand Rapids on the tail end of back-to-back games, and while they had chances to win, the team ended up falling 83-86.

It was a tough loss to handle. Not only did they end up losing after outscoring their opponents 46-60 in the second half, but they also lost one of their starters – MaKayla Pool. She sprained her ankle with about 10 minutes remaining in the game.

The Thunder’s head coach Lance Dalbey said that Pool will probably miss all their games through Christmas break because they do not want to rush her back and cause even more damage. For now, the best thing for her is rest.

With Pool out, the Thunder had to look to their bench, which is already thin to begin with, for a replacement. They had just three days to do so, as they went on the road to St. Cloud Cathedral on Tuesday, Dec. 13, to take on the Crusaders, who were 4-1 heading into the game.

The Thunder knew there was a lot to overcome, as they went into Tuesday’s matchup, but they weren’t concerned about that. They knew that everything would work out in the end, if they were able to play their style of basketball.

“To be honest with you, I had expected us to come out and play well,” Dalby said. “You can’t ask for wins, all you can ask for is kids to play hard. We always talk about, ‘The scoreboard takes care of itself.’ When you put out the effort, the energy and the focus during the game, the scoreboard takes care of itself.”

The Thunder ended up willing the game by a score of 76-65, and advanced to 4-1 on the season. It was a gutsy effort for by the team, as they had four different players on the floor for at least 30 minutes throughout the night.

Alyssa Daugherty once again led her team with 23 points, but the offense was a lot more balanced this time around. Four different players reached double digits for scoring, and the bench players were really able to step up in Pool’s absence.

“We got to use some kids tonight,” Dalby explained. “I thought our bench played outstanding tonight. Coming in and giving us really solid minutes, which is awesome to see.”

But offense was not what won the game for the Thunder, it was their defense. They were able to lock down the Crusaders and create multiple turnovers. Those led to fast breaks, which led to points – really bringing the offense to life.

“The kids created a lot of turnovers,” Dalbey said. “We gave ourselves some easy chances and we jumped on them early. My hope was that we got the lead early and that put pressure on the opposing team. When you jump a team and make them have to battle back consistently throughout a long game. Especially when we’re the team that’s pressing, and we’re the team that’s forcing them into making bad decisions, that lends itself well. When we do start off well like we did (Tuesday), it’s definitely a bonus.”

The Thunder get a week-long break after their win and it will be a great chance for the starters to rest up after playing so many minutes. They will not see the court again until Tuesday, Dec. 20, when they go on the road to Mora.