OSSEO — Score Round 1 for the defending champ.
Eau Claire Regis got a leg up in the Western Cloverbelt girls basketball race on Tuesday night, handing fellow conference title contender Osseo-Fairchild a 53-44 loss on its home floor.
The Ramblers’ Kate Seyer scored all 16 of her points in the second half. In one stretch Seyer and fellow senior Amber Darge — who also had 16 for the game — scored 21 points in a row for Regis.
“She’s a big-game player,” Regis coach Patrick Boughton said about Seyer. “Last year at the conference championship down here against Neillsville in this building she had a huge game for us. She’s been there long enough, she’s a leader, she knows when to step up.”
Junior Teryn Karlstad chipped in with 14 points — including the first six of the second half for the Ramblers — and grabbed several big boards.
“Teryn Karlstad was just a beast in the post tonight for us,” Boughton said.
The Ramblers led 22-16 after a cold-shooting first half for both teams. But it was Regis that stepped it up in the final 18 minutes.
“I think we moved the ball a lot better and got more aggressive,” Seyer said. “Definitely our defense was better and our rotation was really good in the second half.”
Regis made things difficult for senior Brooke Freitag, who had a team-high 15 points, and the Thunder with its strong on-ball defense. The Ramblers did a good job disrupting Osseo-Fairchild’s screens and the length of Seyer, Darge and Karlstad created lots of turnovers and misses at the rim.
On the perimeter, Celine Sabbagh and Morgan Rohrscheib were difference-makers on the defensive end.
“They’re a big, long, great team,” Thunder coach Hailey Zawacki said. “We knew that going in that we would have to use our speed tonight, and I just feel like we didn’t execute the way we wanted to.
“We missed a lot of easy bunnies, we didn’t get our shooters the ball in the correct places and Regis was the better team.”
Still, the Thunder took the lead twice in second half, and it was a one-possession game for most of the final 10 minutes before Regis iced the game at the free-throw line. There were some nervous moments for the Ramblers, who struggled late with the Thunder press.
Senior Rayanne Walker gave Osseo-Fairchild a big lift with seven points in the second half, including a momentum-turning bucket plus a foul.
But every time the tide seemed to be turning toward the Thunder, the Ramblers — or more specifically Seyer and Darge — were there to turn it right back.
With a deep senior class returning, Osseo-Fairchild was the top choice in a preseason poll of Western Cloverbelt coaches, with defending champ Regis a close second. Chippewa Falls McDonell came in third and also might have something to say about the title race.
And while the Ramblers got win, Tuesday’s matchup showed there’s not a whole lot between the two teams.
Round 2 is slated for Jan. 18 at Regis.