Phoenix rally from early deficit to top Cardinals
COLUMBUS — This one didn’t start quite the way the Luther Prep girls basketball team had envisioned.
The Phoenix trailed 22-4 in the first half but cut the margin to eight at the break before grabbing a lead six minutes later en route to beating host Columbus 57-54 in a Capitol North Conference game on Thursday.
Freshman Grace Schmidt tallied a game-high 20 points and sophomore Lauren Paulsen added 15 as Luther Prep (7-5, 2-3 in conference) won its third game in four outings.
Luther Prep trailed 16-1 early in the game and Columbus (2-12, 0-5) pressed effectively and consistently hit shots.
The Phoenix made some adjustments to get Schmidt more involved and relied on Paulsen’s crucial shots down the stretch to secure the victory.
“We talked about that in the second half, we were down 18 at one point and how great it was they kept fighting,” Luther Prep girls basketball head coach Mark Schroeder said. “I was happy the way they responded in the second half. Lauren Paulsen hit big free throws and some big baskets. She did a fantastic job on the perimeter. Grace got some decent looks and was able to kick it out or turn around and score.”
Luther Prep held a lead six minutes into the second half and extended its advantage to seven at one point.
“One of the things we talked about and have been stressing this season is how much the girls like to compete,” Schroeder said. “We’ve been talking about growing each game and being in different situations. The girls went out and stuck together and didn’t turn on each other. They kept each other in the game. They had the confidence and tenacity to come back and get a win.”
Paulsen’s play of late, especially shooting the basketball, has sparked the Phoenix.
“She’s a fantastic shooter,” Schroeder said. “As the season has been going on, she has been seeing that she can knock down shots and the rest of the girls are seeing she can do it too. The team is behind her and she came up big the last two games for us.”
Senior guard Ally Goba totaled eight points for Luther Prep.
Schmidt made seven field goals despite regularly being guarded by two Columbus defenders.
“She has a nice attack to the basket and was able to get buckets and also draw fouls underneath,” Schroeder said.
“They did a really good job trying to work a double team on her and when the double team came she found an open girl to work the ball around more.”
Columbus’s Jordan Link contributed 13 points and Savannah Olson added 12.
Luther Prep hosts Brookfield Academy on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
LUTHER PREP 57,
Luther Prep 25 32 — 57
Columbus 33 21 — 54
Luther Prep (fg-ft-tp) — Goba 3-0-8, Paulsen 4-6-15, Glisper 1-0-2, Kieselhorst 1-0-3, Hunter 2-0-4, Burke 1-1-3, Hirsch 1-0-2, Schmidt 7-5-20. Totals 20 12-17 57.
Columbus (fg-ft-tp) — Link 4-1-13, A. Olson 1-3-5, Boettcher 1-0-2, Kahl 3-1-7, S. Olson 5-1-12, Zittel 2-1-5, Ekern 0-1-1, Paulson 3-0-9. Totals 19 8-20 54.
Three-point goals — LP, Goba 2, Paulsen, Kieselhorst, Schmidt; C, Link 4, Paulsen, S. Olson.
Total fouls — LP 18, C 18.