Jefferson tops Fort Atkinson in season opener
FORT ATKINSON — Olivia Ganser dedicated herself to speed and strength conditioning this summer.
On Tuesday, her time began to pay dividends as the junior forward poured in 24 points, including 20 in the second half, as the Jefferson girls basketball team defeated Fort Atkinson 48-34 in a nonconference season-opening game.
The Eagles held a six-point halftime edge and scored on three consecutive backdoor cuts in the second half to put the game nearly out of reach.
“I’m more so excited for (Ganser) because she’s worked so hard,” first-year Jefferson head coach Evan Hibbs said. “She is truly one of those kids who spends time in the gym when nobody else is watching. (On) nights like this it pays off.”
Fort Atkinson cut the lead to six on a couple occasions in the second half. Sophomore guard Ainsley Howard made a 3-pointer to put Jefferson in front 29-21 with under 10 minutes to play. The Blackhawks never got closer then six points and Howard made a pair of free throws, part of her 11-point total, to put Jefferson up nine with 2:15 to go.
“They were a little bit of a deeper team which would explain why there was a little bit of a run,” Hibbs said. “We kind of conserved energy a little bit and I think we did a good job with that. They made their run and we were able to make ours after that.”
Scoring on backdoor plays was part of Jefferson’s game plan.
“We put our better players in good positions to score there,” Hibbs said. “We obviously want to run things for Olivia (Ganser) at times ... It’s a tough screen to guard and a lot of times people don’t read that exactly.”
The Eagles’ defense forced Fort Atkinson into taking contested perimeter shots that they weren’t able to convert.
“When you keep them under 40 points that is pretty good,” Hibbs said. “There was still things we could have cleaned up, too.”
The victory is Hibbs’ first at the helm of Jefferson’s varsity team. He credits the structure in place for making his job easier.
“It doesn’t matter what level you coach at, it matters about what girls you have,” he said. “I took over a good group of girls. I don’t teach culture or work ethic, they already brought that in. It was an easy job for me to step into.”
Jefferson hosts Whitewater on Friday at 7:15 p.m.
JEFFERSON 48, FORT ATKINSON 34
Jefferson 19 29 — 48
Fort Atkinson 13 21 — 34
Jefferson (fg-ft-tp) — Ganser 6-11-24, Howard 1-8-11, S. Peterson 0-1-1, Neitzal 1-0-3, H. Peterson 1-3-5, J. Peterson 1-0-2, Beck 1-1-2. Totals 11 24-41 48.
Fort Atkinson (fg-ft-tp) — Brandl 3-5-12, Stoutenborough 1-0-2, Marquart 1-0-2, VanderMause 2-0-4, Schoenike 2-2-6, Garant 1-0-3, Trieloff 2-0-5. Totals 12 7-12 34.
Three-point goals — J, Ganser 1, Howard 1; FA, Brandl 1, Garant 1, Trieloff 1
Total fouls — J 15, FA 26
Fouled out — FA, Brandl, Stoutenborough, Schoenike.