Gunner Kinney of Peshtigo passes to Jordan Berth in the first half Friday night in Marinette. Kiefer Powers of STAA defends. <br> EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Gunner Kinney of Peshtigo passes to Jordan Berth in the first half Friday night in Marinette. Kiefer Powers of STAA defends.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
MARINETTE - To compete with the M&O Conference basketball bully, you have to play relentless defense for every last possession.

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy wasn't up to the challenge Friday night, and lost 63-39 to Peshtigo.

Peshtigo won its 57th consecutive M&O game in dominant fashion. While the offense was efficient, the defense smothered the Cavaliers.

"Defense is what we pride ourselves on in Peshtigo," senior Zack Neumann said. "Offense takes care of itself."

Neumann scored 22 points, but he and his coach were much more proud of his defensive effort. STAA senior Kiefer Powers entered the night averaging 21 points per game. With lots of help in Peshtigo's man-to-man and 1-3-1 zone, Neumann held Powers scoreless.

"We knew coming into the game that Kiefer is probably one of the better scorers in the conference," Neumann said. "That was our goal coming in - we had to lock him down. Team defense. It was a lot of help defense."

The Cavs couldn't stop Neumann's accurate jumpshooting or Jordan Berth's power game. Berth muscled in 14 points.

"I'm disappointed in our effort," STAA coach Ric Powers said. "We're better than that. We're a talented team that did not come ready to play."

Peshtigo sank seven of 14 first-quarter shots. Brendon Thomas stepped off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer a few seconds later, then added another triple to increase the Peshtigo lead to 17-6 with 2:29 in the first quarter.

"We didn't play good team defense," coach Powers said. "Our communication broke down."

STAA cut the lead to nine midway through the second quarter on Varon Vasant's reverse layup, but Berth answered on the other end. Then, he made a nice no-look pass to Darius Dohl for a bucket and a 27-14 lead. Gunner Kinney's steal and layup extended the halftime lead to 17.

There was no Bulldog letdown at the start of the second half. Berth scored inside, Neumann buried two 3-pointers, A.J. Woller sank a free throw, Logan Noffke drove hard to the hole, and the rout was on.

"The challenge at halftime was to be as efficient as we could be on the offensive end," Peshtigo coach Ryan Spaulding said.

Jameson Bardowski, the other half of STAA's 1-2 scoring punch, scored 16 points, but the story was Peshtigo's defense.

"I thought Zack did a great job on (Powers), and I thought the guys executed the game plan very well," Spaulding said. "It's a lot of credit to Zack, but it's also a credit to the team."

STAA fell to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the league. Peshtigo is 9-1 overall, 6-0 in the M&O. Peshtigo's M&O streak dates back nearly four years, but the team is looking ahead, not living in the past.

"It means something to the success we've had, but to this team it mattersa that we're 9-1," Spaulding said. "What matters is that we've gotten better throughout the season and continue to get better."

Peshtigo won the junior varsity game 57-18. Tyler Marquardt led the Bulldogs with 13 points. Austin Marquardt and Justin Thill added 12 apiece and Joey Bradley scored 10. Sam Hart scored six for STAA.

PESHTIGO (63) - Thomas 6, Berth 14, Neumann 22, Kinney 2, Woller 5, VanSickle 4, Dohl 5, Noffke 5, Majewski 0, Jones 0, Igl 0. FGs: 22-42; FTsL 11-17
STAA (39) - Schmidt 5, J. Bardowski 16, Harvey 3, B. Bardowski 5, Vasant 8, Paul 2, Brumm 0, Beranek 0, Powers 0, Carlson 0, Votava 0, Boyle. FGs: 16-42: FTs: 2-8
Peshtigo 19 14 22 8 - 63
STAA 8 8 9 14 - 39
EagleHerald sports writer

PESHTIGO - Carly Dietrich felt the weight of the world on her shoulders as she stepped to the free throw line as time expired with the game tied at 29.

As the refs moved both Peshtigo and Menominee players to half-court, everyone watched Dietrich miss her first free throw before sinking the second to seal a Bulldog 30-29 victory over the Maroons on Friday.

"I was so nervous, my knees were shaking badly," Dietrich said. "After I missed the first, I just told myself I had to make the second. I was so happy when I did."

It took four quarters and an overtime session to decide the outcome as both teams went back-and-forth the entire game.
"What a battle," Peshtigo coach Bobby Kuchta said. "We didn't play our best, but we never gave up and stayed strong until the end."

It was low scoring throughout the night and Menominee held a 23-18 lead entering the third quarter.

Nicole Motkowski sank a tough layup and was fouled to start the quarter. After missing the free throw, Peshtigo got the ball back and Amanda Majewski clutched up for a tough 3-pointer to tie the game at 23 with 6:30 remaining.

Both teams exchanged baskets before Mandy Anderla drew a foul and sank one of two free throws with 1:20 remaining, putting Menominee up 26-25.

Peshtigo had two chances to score, but missed on both opportunities.
With 9.2 seconds left, Menominee's Amanda Pedersen drew a foul.

After sinking the first, she missed the second, Brittany Marquardt got the rebound, dished it out to Majewski who found Dietrich open near the basket and she converted on a layup to beat the buzzer and send the game to overtime.

"I almost missed the shot," Dietrich said. "I had been struggling all game and I finally got out of my slump. It felt great."

Neither team scored in the overtime session until Dietrich sank two free throws with 52.1 seconds left to put Peshtigo up 29-27.

Anderla sank a cold-blooded long jumper with a hand in her face with 34 seconds left for the Maroons to tie it at 29.

After a Peshtigo missed shot, Menominee got the ball at half court with 6.9 seconds remaining and a timeout from Maroons coach Lucas Chouinard.

The game ended after a missed Menominee shot and a rebound by Marquardt, who found Dietrich again as she drove down the court to draw the game-ending foul as time expired.

"That was a tough loss, heart-breaking loss," Chouinard said. "I told the girls after that any time you hold a team to 30 points, that's a great game. We just didn't get it done on the offensive end."

Majewski led the Bulldogs (8-1) with nine points. Dietrich had seven, including the team's final five points and Marquardt added five.

"I thought Carly really stepped up for us tonight and was clutch when we needed her," Kuchta said. "Our goal going into the season was to not only play well in conference, but win all of our non-conference games. This was a tough test for us, but I'm proud of the way the girls played."

For Menominee (5-2), Anderla led the team with 10 points, all coming in the final two quarters and overtime. Pedersen and Allia Stewart each finished with six points.

"We learned some things tonight that we'll take with us going forward," Chouinard said. "It's been three weeks since our last game so there was rust there, but our offense needs to improve. We'll go back to work next week and just try to get better every day."

PESHTIGO (30) - Klaver 0, Majewski 9, Marquardt 5, Dietrich 7, Ruleau 0, Tonn 4, Motkowski 2, Sokol 0, Emmes 3; FGs: 9; FTs: 5-12
MENOMINEE (29) - Simmons 0, Owens 3, Barley 2, Christian 0, Woods 2, Anderla 10, Stewart 6, Pedersen 6; FGs: 11; FTs: 6-17
Peshtigo 9 1 8 9 3 - 30
Menominee 9 2 12 4 2 - 29