TUPPER LAKE - The Tupper Lake girls basketball team avenged a loss to Saranac Lake with a 36-31 home win Thursday night.
This was the second time the teams met this season. In the opening game of the season for both teams last week, the Red Storm rolled to an easy 44-24 victory on their home court.
This time around, Tupper Lake stepped up its defense and played better on the boards.
Marisa McDonough of Saranac Lake battles for a rebound against Tupper Lake’s Katie Stuart (14) and Allison Richards (11) during Thursday night’s game in Tupper Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"I told them, we gave them 19 points offensively the first time we played them by second-chance points," Lumberjacks coach Jenn Cook said. "I told them we have to get on the boards, make sure we box out and give ourselves a chance to be in the game. They did a little bit better job. We have to keep continuing to work on doing a better job of boxing out or we're going to be in trouble, but we did a better job there. Our defensive pressure was a lot better."
The difference in play was apparent from the beginning. The Lumberjacks got off to a good start, jumping out to a 12-4 first quarter lead with a balanced scoring attack. During the run, Lizzie Zurek and Malorie McLear had four points apiece while Ryane O'Connor and Lindsey Maroun each had a pair.
Maroun's bucket came after point guard Katie Stuart stole the ball and led a fast break. Stuart hit Maroun for a layup in transition.
For the night, the Lumberjacks were led by Zurek, who finished with a game-high 14 points. Stuart, the team's leading scorer, chipped in 10 points.
Megan Kilroy and Megan Moody paced the Red Storm with nine points apiece. Nicole Viscardo had five.
Saranac Lake fell to 1-1 with the loss while Tupper Lake improved to 2-2. The Lumberjacks have now won two in a row after starting the season with consecutive losses.
"I think the first game around was our first game out, (we were) getting the first game jitters out," Cook said. "Some of the girls are getting used to starting, playing more. With Stuart being my only returning player, some other girls are starting to be a little more comfortable with their roles. I think that showed tonight."
Zurek agreed that the Lumberjack's inexperience hurt them the first time around.
"I think it was mostly that that was our first game of the season and we've grown a lot more since that day," she said. "We're working. We have a fairly new team and we're more experienced now."
The Lumberjacks took the lead early in the first quarter Thursday when they went up 4-3 on a layup from McLear. From that point on, Tupper Lake never relinquished the lead.
During the second quarter, Stuart hit some big shots to extend Tupper Lake's lead. The senior guard had all of her 10 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers midway through the period.
By halftime, the Lumberjacks extended their lead to 24-14.
In the second half, the Red Storm cut the deficit to five a few times, but were never able to get closer.
Moody played well for Saranac Lake in the third quarter with six points. She helped cut the lead to five with a steal and a layup with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter. But early in the fourth quarter, the Lumberjacks extended their lead back up to nine when Zurek hit a layup.
"Tupper Lake definitely stepped up their game," Saranac Lake coach Dave Zerrahn said. "They played some great defense tonight. They made us do a lot of turnovers, which hurt us tonight, especially on the offensive end. Then we didn't have a good night shooting the ball. Defense from Tupper Lake was very good tonight."