By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
ERIE, Ill. —
A day after playing what coach Jesse Abbott called the best game of the season in a seven-point loss to Kewanee Wethersfield, Fulton played a close first half against another tough opponent — Stockton — on Friday at the Warkins Cardinal Classic girls basketball tournament.
The Steamers trailed 25-24 at intermission and took a one-point lead a minute into the third quarter on a jumper by Rachael Beiermann. But then the Blackhawks turned to freshman Kara Wright off the bench in the 56-41 victory.
Wright went on a personal 8-0 run over the next 2:36 to put Stockton ahead 33-26.
"I just was on," Wright said. "They got me the ball, and I was open. My girl wasn't guarding me very tight, so I was able to shoot."
Fulton never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
"Once we started hitting our shots, we felt a lot more comfortable," Wright said.
But there was more to Stockton taking control than a spark from the youngest of three Wright sisters on the Blackhawks' roster.
"We saw flashes of it in the first half, and they took advantage of it in the second half — we weren't in very good defensive position for most of the game," Abbott said. "In the third quarter, we were very slow rotating defensively. We were sort of impatient on offense. When a shot went up, we got outworked going for the basketball."
Stockton coach Dennis Young attributed his team's turnaround to something else.
"It was probably the butt-chewing they got at halftime," he said with a chuckle.
In the second half, Fulton made only one layup that didn't immediately follow an offensive rebound.
"Sometimes when things aren't going our way, the girls try to do a little bit too much on their own," Abbott said. "They take jump shots a little quicker than I'd like. ... We aren't as patient as we should be."
Stockton also took greater pains to try to limit Fulton 6-foot senior Morgan Wierema on the inside. In the first half, Wierema scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
"We got a little physical," Young said. "We started pushing a little bit and put the big body on her, the only big body that I have. We tried to move her around a little bit."
Morgan Sanquist scored 15 points to lead the Steamers, five in the third quarter as she tried to keep Fulton in contact with Stockton.
Stockton was led by Maddie Dower's 18 points, nine in the fourth quarter, and 11 rebounds.
Abbott said there was no need for his team to panic or worry after taking an apparent step back in the second half.
"It's really a simple fix," he said. "I don't think it has anything to do with knowing what we should or shouldn't do. It's just a matter of can we maintain our energy; can we not get outworked; and can we be in the right position? I told the girls it can be a very easy fix because we don't have to learn anything new. We just have to do what we know how to do a little bit better."
STOCKTON 56, FULTON 41
FULTON — Rachael Beiermann 1-6 0-0 2, Samantha Raab 0-10 0-0 0, Katherine Wayne 3-13 6-8 12, Morgan Sanquist 6-16 2-4 15, Kelsey Leffler 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel McDonnell 1-4 0-0 2, Morgan Wierema 3-14 4-6 10. Totals 14-63 12-18 41.
STOCKTON — Emily Langfield 1-8 3-6 5, Kara Wright 3-8 3-4 10, Kelsey Wright 0-3 2-2 2, Krista Zueger 1-4 0-0 3, Maddie Dower 8-12 1-1 18, Kristin Wright 5-10 1-3 11, Sarah Nadig 0-4 3-4 3, Brooke Beneventi 1-2 2-4 4. Totals 19-51 15-24 56.
Fulton 10 14 9 8 — 41
Stockton 11 14 12 19 — 56
3-point goals — Fulton 1-10 (Sanquist 1-4, Raab 0-6); Stockton 3-13 (Dower 1-1, Ka. Wright 1-3, Zueger 1-3, Nadig 0-1, Langfield 0-2, Kr. Wright 0-3). Total fouls — Fulton 15; Stockton 16. Fouled out — Wayne.