The Barron girls faded late in a 52-39 season opening loss to Unity but bounced back for a resounding 71-27 win over Spooner to start Heart O’North play on the right foot in a pair of home basketball games played in a three-day span last week.
Unity’s Eagles were in town Tuesday, Nov. 19, and played the Golden Bears to a 24-24 first half tie. Junior Gracie Smith was powering Barron’s offense from the post with five field goals and a free throw over the opening 18 minutes.
She added three baskets in the second half to finish with 16 points, but the visitors pulled away with a 28-15 advantage for the 13-point victory.
“We knew coming in Unity was a very good team, and it would be a battle all night,” first year head coach Brittni Hover said. “We hung with them until the final 5 minutes.
“First game jitters led us to way too many turnovers. I would also like to see us get to the free throw line more.”
Barron finished just two for eight from the charity stripe, while their guests were 19 of 25.
Macey Herrman added 10 points for the Bears, but Raegan Sorenson was too much to handle. After powering Unity to a 17-5 record last year, the junior dropped 33 points on the Bears in the opener. The Eagles are now 2-0 after posting a 62-45 victory over Somerset on Thursday.
The Bears were back on the home floor Thursday night and used an up-tempo, full court pressure style of play to run out to a big lead. Barron’s defense created turnovers from the opening tip, but the ensuing fast break shots weren’t falling right away.
The Bears led 13-4 after junior Rylee Stauner turned a turnover into a layup with 11:45 to play in the first half. The girls were up 20-5 just a minute later with a basket by junior Jada Brunkow, and led 37-9 with 4:39 on the clock after Herrman got into the mix from the paint.
Coach Hover pulled the press off midway through the first half, when Barron was already in the double bonus. The Bears made 30 trips to line, cashing in 21 times.
“We played a more up-tempo game,” Hover said. “I was impressed with our team’s ability to push the basketball. We had very balanced scoring, which is always nice to see!”
Smith controlled the paint, grabbing rebounds and dropping in nine field goals on the way to a game-high 20 points. Brunkow added 10 points, while Paige Knutson and Herrman both scored eight in the 71-27 victory.
Logan Sprenger, a senior, led Spooner with seven points. The Rails were seven for 18 at the free throw line, while both teams hit twice from long range.
The girls are on a prolonged break that will end with a pre-season game at Hammond against St. Croix Central (0-1) on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The Golden Bears will play at Ladysmith two days later. The Lumberjills are also 1-0 in the HON standings, beating Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 61-41 in their only game thus far.