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Second half surge downs Braves

Kennady Barlund (40) goes up for two points against Menahga Thursday. Brian Basham/Record1 / 2
Alexis Tappe (14) drives the lane for Frazee against Menahga Thursday night. Brian Basham/Record2 / 2

It took a half of figuring out what type of defense would work on Menahga's 2,500-point scoring guard Tarah Cleveland in Thursday night's game in Frazee, but once the Lady Hornets did, it was game over.

The answer was a stingy man-to-man defense, where senior guard and Frazee's new all-time leading scorer, Alexis Tappe was put on Cleveland.

It worked, as the Lady Hornets captured their 15th win of the season, keyed by a 15-0 run to start the second half and en route to a convincing 62-36 win over the Braves.

"In the first half, we played a zone defense, but switched to man-to-man after halftime," said Tappe, who led all scorers with 23 points, including a slashing layup which put her on top of the Frazee all-time scoring list with 1,560 points and counting. "We started rebounding and got some momentum and our girls ran the floor well."

After playing to a 31-30 halftime deficit and with Cleveland finding the perimeter open for 14 points -- including four three-pointers -- in the first half, strategy needed to be changed.

Frazee head coach Dave Conzemius put the responsibility of containing Cleveland on his best player in Tappe, who was able to misdirect the Brave guard's shot enough to limit her to just seven points in the second half, where the Lady Hornets outscored Menahga by a 34-18 margin.

"I decided to put Alexis on Cleveland because of her length," Conze-mius said. "That made Cleveland work for her points, because Alexis was able to stop her penetration of the lane.

"But it wasn't just Alexis' defense, it was all five girls contributing."

On the other end, Tappe showed why she is the new Lady Hornet all-time leading scorer, after she surpassed Courtney Kallis' mark of 1,541 points.

Tappe was able to find the soft spots in the Braves' zone defense and make slashing layups over and over, resulting in a 53.8 percentage success rate from the floor.

After Menahga started to collapse on her, she was able to dish it out to her teammates, who finished the shots with effective shooting.

"I was just able to see some lanes and weave between the (Menahga) girls," Tappe said.

Each of guards Josi Tappe and Kennady Barlund had strong games, as the former netted all eight of her points in the second half and the latter went for a total of 13 points.

"Kennady also had an unbelievable game playing defense," Conzemius said. "The entire team also rebounded well, with good positioning."

Senior forward Ashley Bachmann helped keep the Lady Hornets in the game in the first half by draining a trio of three's for her nine points in the contest.

Defensively, Frazee put on a suffocating effort, which didn't allow Menahga to score until the 10:18 mark in the second half.

By then, Frazee had already built a commanding 45-33 lead, which expanded to an even 20 at 60-40 with 5:38 left in the game.

Cleveland still had her 21 points, but only eight in the second half, while Shelby Pihlaja added 11, Jenny Skoog nine and Bradi Carlson eight.

The Lady Hornets are now 15-3 and just two wins shy of tying the teams' all-time win record of 17, which was a goal since the start of the season, Alexis Tappe said.

"We are taking it one game at a time, but we are a lot more confident and humble as a team," the all-time leading scorer said.

The Lady Hornets have eight more games remaining, with a couple of important tilts against Section 8-2A foes Hawley (Feb. 19) and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (Feb. 22).

The surprising strength of the Lady Hornets has been their rebounding, since Frazee's tallest player doesn't reach 6-0.

"We have practiced boxing out a lot and getting stronger," Tappe said.

It's the strength and positioning which have worked out perfectly for the Lady Hornets and it's resulting in wins, with Frazee outrebounding their opponents by a 631-575 margin.

"I give a lot of credit to our trainers, because the girls have become stronger," Conzemius said. "They get very good positioning and they know if they get the rebound, we will be able to run the floor."

Also the versatility of the Lady Hornets to play just about any defense well has dictated what the tempo will be to opposing offenses.

Frazee has stymied opposing teams to 46.6 points per game, while averaging 61.9 themselves.

"The biggest improvement is our man-to-man defense," Conzemius said. "We believe if we can play good defense and rebound, we can win every game we play."

With that swagger being created by this talented Lady Hornet team, Tappe isn't the only player who can make history -- the entire team can.

"I see no fear from this team and see plenty of confidence in these kids when they are on the court," Conzemius concluded.

Second half rally propels Lady Hornets

After a sluggish first half, the Frazee Lady Hornet basketball team had a strong second half to help them pull away and defeat Park Christian 62-36 Tuesday night in Moorhead.

"I thought we came out a little flat in the first half," Conzemius said. "But in the second half we executed much better and also played much better on the defensive end."

Frazee led 25-18 at halftime, but opened the second half with a 14-2 run behind seven points from Taylor Tappe to take control of the game.

The Lady Hornets had a balanced effort that saw them place four girls in double figures.

Alexis Tappe led the way with her first career triple-double, scoring 17 points to go with 11 rebounds and 11 assists -- all on her 18th birthday.

Bachmann had 11 points and nine rebounds, Kennady Barlund had 11 points and four assists and Taylor Tappe chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Hornet results

Menahga at Frazee, Thursday, Jan. 31.

Braves 31 18 - 49

Lady Hornets 30 34 - 64

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) - Fraz: Taylor Tappe 2-0-1-2-5; Heidi Seeger 1-0-0-0-2; Alexis Tappe 7-2-3-4-23; Katie McCorquadale 2-0-0-0-4; Josi Tappe 4-0-0-0-8; Kennady Barlund 6-0-1-2-13; Ashley Bachmann 0-3-0-0-9. TOTAL: 22-5-5-8-64.

Mnhg: B. Carlson 1-2-0-0-8; S. Pihlaja 3-1-2-2-11; J. Skoog 3-1-0-0-9; T. Cleveland 4-4-1-1-21. TOTAL: 11-8-3-3-49.

Frazee at Park Christian, Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Lady Hornets 25 37 - 62

Park Christian 18 18 - 36

F: T. Tappe 10, Seeger 4, A. Tappe 17, Barker 2, McCorquodale 6, J. Tappe 1, Barlund 11, Bachmann 11.

PC: Kowalski 7, Larson 2, Harmelink 7, C. Nepstad 5, Viland 8, M. Nepstad 7.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.