ARLINGTON - When it came to goals, Midland girls basketball coach Jason Soper wanted to make sure to keep things relatively simple for his young team.
“Our goal all year is to get better from game to game,” he said. “I feel that we’re beginning to grasp the concept overall of what we’re trying to do.”
Soper certainly got that feeling after the Eagles’ outstanding performance at Starmont Tuesday, Dec. 10.
“This game is a mirror of where we want to be game-in and game-out,” said Soper, as his team picked up their first triumph of the 2019-20 campaign with a 54-39 win over the host Stars.
“In the first quarter we more or less traded baskets with Starmont, forcing them into numerous turnovers. It was a very physical in your face contest,” Soper said. “Another thing that we were able to accomplish this game that we have yet to do this season is win every quarter. We out-scored Starmont 8-7 after one and 15-11 after two giving us a 23-18 halftime edge.”
It would be a lead Midland (1-4) would not lose.
While the game was relatively close at the half, the Eagles took firm control in the third quarter going on a 17-9 spurt to take a 40-27 advantage into the final frame.
“Starmont did make a run to get is as close as 12, but we regained control and ended up winning the game by 15,” Soper said. “For the game as a team we shot 20-of-36 from the foul line, which is a better percentage than we had been shooting, but it’s still not where we want to be. But overall I was impressed with getting to the foul like that many times.”
Hacke recorded a rare triple-double coming through with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steaks while Rupp added a double-double with 14 points and 10 steals.
Kaeti Taylor-Mere helped out on the glass ripping down six in the game as the Eagles tallied 40 rebounds on the night. Kirstin Schaefer chipped in for the offense scoring nine points while Allison Paulsen added eight more.
“Overall for the game we forced 41 Starmont turnovers, 31 of which were from steals,” Soper said. “Our guards did a really good job of putting a lot of pressure and causing numerous Starmont turnovers. We actually had two girls (Ella Rupp and Sari Hacke) with 10 steals each. For all classes of high school girls basketball, Ella and Ari are tied for 11th-place for steals in an individual game and they both did it in the same game, which is an amazing feat.”
Hope Saroka and Bailie Uppena helped the impressive Midland steal total adding four more each.
“I was really impressed with Ari and the intensity she brought to the game,” Soper said. “Hopefully this provides confidence for her moving forward. This is what we need from her on a more regular basis, which I know she is capable of.”
Midland returned home Friday, Dec. 13, ands against 12th-ranked Springville, were handed a rough 51-23 setback.
“Coming off our first victory we wanted to continue that trend of getting better game to game,” Soper said. “Springville is a quality opponent and we were excited to see how we would match up with them. All season our struggles have been on the offensive end and this game proved to be the same.”
After a slow start by both teams, the Orioles took control of the contest mid-way through the first quarter taking an 18-6 lead at the horn before stretching the advantage to 35-14 at the halftime break.
“Our intensity and effort are always there, and we knew in order for us to have success we needed to keep (Lauren) Wilson and (Morgan) Nachazel in check,” Soper said. “We did a good job of doing so, holding them both to less than double-figures scoring. I challenged Allison and Ari with that task and they both did a great job.
“But, the M.O. of any good team is other people can step up, and that is what happened with Springville having balanced scoring.”
The Eagles came out of the halftime break and played some outstanding basketball, holding the potent Oriole offense to a mere three points in the third quarter before a 13-2 Springville run over the final eight minutes blew the game wide-open again.
“Seven different Midland girls scored in the game led by six from Paulsen while Hacke tallied 12 rebounds, five assists and four points.