WILMINGTON -- When your last name is 13 letters long, odds are that people are going to shorten it.
And when it comes to Mount St. Joseph’s star guard, "Bach" just seems fitting.
Claire Schmelzenbach impressed her audience, just as the German composer once did, and scored 13 points to lead the Green Wave to a 41-32 victory over the Twin Valley girls basketball team on Tuesday evening.
"Bach" played in-your-face defense and continually deflected passes, helping the visitors to a 26-13 lead by the intermission. She scored nine points in the opening half, thanks to three bunnies, a deep deuce and a made free throw.
"They played good denial defense," said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. "The second quarter is where the game was won. They scored 18 points in that quarter. I’m not sure what happened to our defense."
Leading 8-6, MSJ started that quarter with a 10-0 run. They got two hoops each from "Bach" and center Alex Reedy, while Kaitlynn Protivansky chipped in with a sweet move on the low block.
"We showed some promise with our play in the second half. Our defense did a little bit better," stated the Twin Valley coach. "We had a lot of good looks. We had multiple opportunities."
The Wildcats started the second half with a 4-0 run, as Abbi Molner kissed home a runner and Colton Butler sank a shot from just inside the charity stripe. Sammy Cunningham-Darrah took a charge while her student section was screaming, "defense," and kicking the bleachers.
Molner would hustle back to prevent an easy layup, and Butler dribbled the length of the floor to beat MSJ’s press. It was enough to make the visiting coach play half-court defense the rest of the way.
The momentum was turning, and the home crowd was starting to believe.
Gwen Breslen’s outside shot and Megan Eaton’s slashing move to the goal resulted in MSJ’s only third-quarter points. Cunningham-Darrah would make a contested layup with Breslen all over her, Abby Putnam drilled a pullup jumper and Molner sank a free throw to get the Wildcats within 30-22 with eight minutes remaining.
The Green Wave started the final quarter with a 10-4 surge that basically put it out of reach. "Bach" sparked it with a putback and then a 12-footer from the left baseline versus Twin Valley’s zone -- a defense the visitors finally solved using quick passes.
Butler, who has taken over at point guard for the injured Savannah Nesbitt, was in a zone down the stretch. She buried a shot from just inside the arc, turned a fine pass from Cunningham-Darrah into a layup and later scored on a follow. Molner would score her team’s last two buckets, with the first being set up by Christina Moore and the second coming off of a steal with 12 seconds left.
"Bach" paced the winners with 13 points. Butler (11 points, 4 assists) and Molner (9 points, 10 rebounds) starred for the hosts. Moore, Lexi Reinertson and Hannah Swanson combined for 18 boards.
The 0-1 Wildcats will play at Rivendell on Friday.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.