News Sports Editor
The Alpena girls basketball team must have experienced a bit of deja vu on Friday.
With 2:12 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats found themselves tied at 30 with Gaylord in what had been a close game to that point.
The rest of the game however, belonged to the Blue Devils, who outscored Alpena 19-4 the rest of the way and topped the Wildcats 49-34 at Alpena High School during a Hoops for Hope pink game in support of breast cancer awareness.
The Wildcats (4-12, 3-7 Big North) led 24-20 at halftime and briefly held a four-point lead early in the third quarter, but Gaylord caught fire down the stretch. The Blue Devils led 35-30 at the end of the third quarter and stayed in control from there.
"Coming into the second half with a four-point lead was awesome, but they caught up with us," Alpena senior Megan Barkley said. "I had fun, the whole team had fun. We've come a long way this season, but what can you do?"
It was a tough end to a busy week for Alpena. On Monday, the Wildcats were tied at 25-25 after three quarters with Traverse City West and faded in the final period before losing 38-28. Sault Ste. Marie got the better of Alpena on Tuesday.
While Alpena concentrated its defensive efforts on stopping Gaylord's Mackenzie Edwards, the Blue Devils looked to other players to shoulder the scoring load. Alexandra Simmons scored 13 points for Gaylord, nine of those coming from second-half triples. Simmons hit a trey at the end of the third quarter and then another 49 seconds into the final quarter to put Gaylord firmly ahead, 38-30.
Edwards led all scorers with 22 points and Christina Kollien paced Alpena with eight points. Jenna Talbot and Barkley each added six points for Alpena.
A back-and-forth game in the first half saw Alpena ahead 11-10 after the the first quarter. The efforts of Talbot, Barkley and Adrianna Hatch helped the Wildcats break a 14-14 tie with 6:25 left in the half and take a 20-14 lead. Alpena led by six at two other points before the end of the half, before a basket from Edwards cut the deficit to four headed into intermission.
Two baskets from Lizzy Trelfa were all the Wildcats could muster in the fourth quarter as Alpena went scoreless for the last 4:15 of the game and was outscored 14-4 in the period. Alpena got several good looks, but several times the shots just didn't fall.
Despite the loss, Barkley, who was one of the members of the Hoops for Hope Committee, said the event was a success. The stands were packed with fans wearing pink and both teams wore special uniforms. The Wildcats wore full pink uniforms while Gaylord wore white tops with pink shorts.
"Even though we didn't win, I think we raised a lot of money for cancer, so that's all that really matters," Barkley said. "I came in to this game, win or lose, (knowing) I would be happy because I planned it. With all the people involved, it was amazing and it did not matter if we won or lost."
Gaylord's JV team topped Alpena 42-32. Morgan Allen and Rachel Zolnierek led Alpena with seven points.
Alpena's freshman team defeated the Blue Devils 38-6 and everyone scored for the Wildcats.
GAYLORD (49): Edwards 6 9-10 22; Fox 3 0-1 6; Hamilla 0 1-2 1; Simmons 5 0-1 13; Polena 1 0-0 3; Hintz 1 0-0 2; Buttrick 1 0-0 2.
ALPENA (34): Talbot 3 0-0 6; Smith 1 0-0 2; Milligan 1 2-2 4; Barkley 2 0-0 4; Trelfa 3 0-3 6; Hatch 2 0-0 4; Kollien 4 0-0 8.