In the first game of the season, Ana Erickson earned more floor time by showing she can lock in on the defensive end. The sophomore made the most of her added minutes and showed her value on offense as well.
Erickson exploded for a trio of 3s in less than a minute when her Breckenridge squad was up by two, sparking her team to a 59-48 victory over Staples-Motley, Minnesota, on Tuesday, Dec. 3. She got the hometown crowd jacked up by swishing the first two from the left wing and then she went back to her sweet spot and got a generous bounce high off the glass to complete the trifecta of triples.
“That was big for our team. I think you can go back and watch the bench reaction on that and that was pretty cool,” Breckenridge coach Austin Imdieke said. “We were all playing together, they were pumping her up and one thing we’ve told Ana a lot is that she’s got to play with confidence. She’s making great strides, is playing really well and her teammates are helping with that as well.”
Erickson wasn’t the only Breck player to go a on a run by herself. Jude Held came out and put the Cowgirls on her back with 11 of her team’s first 13 points. The junior was a master at finishing with contact all night, drawing three and-ones on her way to a team-high 23 points.
“I think everybody on the team knows that she’s going to lead us most nights. Our team does a good job of finding her when she gets open and getting her involved in the offense,” Imdieke said. “It’s a major key of what we’re trying to do and Jude knows that, too. A lot of her other teammates ride off her momentum, look to her as a leader and she’s definitely been that leader so far this year.”
The Cardinals were giving the Cowgirls fits in the paint at the beginning of the game. Whether it was pounding in for tough buckets, extending possessions with offensive boards or contesting shots at the hoop, Breck had their hands full. Tabetha Allen was a force to be reckoned with on the interior for Staples.
“(Allen) is a good player. She’s a very tough player,” Imdieke said. “We threw a couple different looks at her with Grace (Conzemius), Mikayla (Snobl) and Jude off a switch a couple different times. She’s a good ball player and a good one for us to see early on. I think we did a good adjustment of trying to keep her off the glass in the second half and that kind of changed the game because they out-rebounded us pretty well in the first half.”
Allen might’ve won the battle in the paint to start the game, but Conzemius was the one edging out the matchup in the second half. Conzemius didn’t get a bucket until the final four seconds of the opening half and came back with 10 in the next period. She also had to shake off an injury after getting the wind knocked out of her after a tough landing.
“That’s huge. I think that’s another thing where the team feeds off of that,” Imdieke said. “Grace toughened up, gets an and-one and then gets things rolling again. Things were getting kind of chaotic and Grace was able to do a couple little things that were in our game plan to get us back on track.”
Despite the strong performances from multiple Cowgirls, they showed a lot of room to improvement in multiple areas.
“Throughout the night tonight it got a little chaotic, got a little crazy,” Imdieke said. “We forced a couple things into that zone trying to force the middle because that was our game plan, but the girls did a good job of adjusting and really taking that halftime adjustment to calm their nerves.”
Breckenridge (2-0) heads to Barnesville, Minnesota, for their first road test of the season. Opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.
“They’re young, but they always play hard. Whenever you go to Barnesville it’s always going to be a battle, so we’ve got to be ready to play,” Imdieke said. “We’ve got to execute a little more crisply than we did today. We need to execute our game plan, not get sped up by the other team and see how it goes.”