Port girls continue the turnaround

Pirates stop conference losing streak with home win over West Bend West; freshmen are coming together

PORT WASHINGTON’S POINT GUARD Paige Scheunemann (left) went through resistance from a West Bend West defender on the way to the basket last Friday in Port. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Nobody on this year’s Port Washington High School girls’ basketball team was on the varsity roster the last time the Pirates won a North Shore Conference game.

It was Feb. 5, 2019 — a 51-48 win over Hartford. Senior starter Kayla Johnson was a freshman.

Last Friday against West Bend West, the Pirates ended that losing streak after storming back from a six-point halftime deficit for a 60-52 victory.

“It was good to get that one,” coach Jakob Wahl said. “Much like that first one (win) at the beginning of the season, I think this will really help our confidence going forward.”

Post player Lillian Merow scored 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and made four blocks.

While Merow uses her height to her advantage — at 6 feet, 2 inches, she was the tallest player on the floor — the freshman also ran the court well and netted easy hoops in transition.

That, Wahl said, is a tribute to the entire team. Freshman guards Sierra Miller and Hope Gilhooly zinged sharp passes to Merow for shots at point-blank range, and the Pirates’ perimeter players drained shots and maintained proper spacing to open up the inside game.

Guard Maggie Zirbes had 13 points and went 4-for-8 on three-pointers.

In the final three minutes, Zirbes drained a few bombs that put the game out of reach, Wahl said.

“They made the plays down the stretch,” he said.

Gilhooly had six points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Johnson scored seven points.

Jenna Ollman  had six points, and  Miller had six points, three rebounds and three assists. Paige Schuenemann had five points.

Port was down, 24-18, at halftime, but outscored the Spartans, 42-28, in the second half.

“We just took care of the ball better. We only had five turnovers in the second half,” Wahl said, adding, “We hit our shots.”

In watching the game film, Wahl said, he noticed the Pirates are enthusiastic and supportive of one another.

“To be able to see their reactions — the girls are really pulling for each other,” he said.

For the Spartans, Lexi Williams scored 13 points but was held to 3-for-21 shooting. Kira Guse scored 12, and Paige Guse and Nikaira Pierson each had eight.

Port improved to 1-8 in the NSC, tied with West for last place. They are 4-11 overall. That’s more victories than they’ve had in the past four seasons combined.

That was nearly the second straight win for the Pirates after losing at Nicolet, 58-51, on Tuesday.

“We were right there. We got off to a little bit of a slow start. It was back and forth to the finish. We’re going to continue getting better,” Wahl said.

Port was down by 10 at halftime and closed to within one point in the second half. The Knights answered with a run to extend the lead.

The goal, Wahl said, is “minimizing those runs to keep us in the game.”

Merow had 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, nine rebounds and three blocks. Johnson had 14 points. Gilhooly had eight points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Miller had five points, six rebounds and three steals, and Zirbes had five points, five rebounds and three steals.

With starting four freshmen and one senior, Wahl is seeing see the development in his young team.

“They’re getting better. The first round of conference games was a huge learning experience. They handled it and played well in spurts,” he said.

Now, Wahl said, “Let’s take the next jump as a group and win some of these games.”

Port hosts West Bend East (3-6 NSC) on Friday and plays at rival Grafton (7-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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