Amherst girls finish unbeaten at Sentry Classic
By John Kemmeter
The Division 3 fourth-ranked Amherst High School girls basketball team went 2-0 at the Sentry Classic for the third year in a row at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 27-29.
The reigning Division 3 State Runner-up Amherst girls rolled to a win over Wautoma Thursday, then held on to beat Saint Mary Catholic (7-4) Saturday afternoon to improve to 10-1.
“It’s a good tournament, it’s well run and it’s like being home because you’re close, so it’s fun to come up here and be 2-0,” said Amherst girls basketball head coach Gregg Jensen. “We had the lopsided affair, and then sometimes you can come back and not be ready to go.
“And then to come back with a really tight game and to follow through in finishing it out, it was a good way to end 2018,” he said.
With senior forward Geena Jensen out for the season with a torn ACL and senior forward Lauren Boelte on the sideline with a concussion, the Amherst girls opened the 47th Sentry Classic against Wautoma Thursday afternoon.
The Falcons dominated from the jump, as they built a 30-2 lead with seven minutes to go in the first half and carried a 40-11 lead into halftime.
Amherst outscored Wautoma 28-8 to build a 68-19 lead midway through the second half and went on to a 72-24 win, as freshman forward Sydney Lehman finished with 18 points, senior guard Ashley Groshek scored 14, sophomore forward Brooke Wideman had 12, and freshman guard/forward Lindsay Dose added 10.
“We played a team that has lost some kids and some kids that have quit and they’re a little bit down, but we always talk about going out and playing the game to best of your ability,” said coach Jensen. “It isn’t necessarily the opponent, we just want to go out and do the things that we do.”
“The biggest thing that I was impressed with was the girls that we had in,” said Groshek. “Everyone was playing in the first half and getting good minutes, Sydney had 18 points, and I think that was actually the highlight of everyone’s day.
“And it was really fun to get to play with everyone,” she said. “Every time you went in, you were with a different batch of girls.”
Amherst was back in action Saturday afternoon against Saint Mary Catholic, where Groshek and senior guard Grace Moe each had six points in the first half, as the Falcons took a 26-24 lead into halftime.
The game remained close throughout the second half, as Saint Mary Catholic used a basket to pull within 48-46 with 1:35 to go, before Moe knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:05 left and Groshek hit a pair of free throws with 51.9 seconds to play to increase the Falcons’ lead to 52-46.
Amherst went on to close out a 53-48 win, as Groshek finished with 14 points, Wideman scored 11, Moe had 10, and Dose added nine.
“We’ve had a lot of lopsided wins, and when you get in a game like that, I think that it just helps down the stretch of when you’re going to be in tight games come tournament time,” said coach Jensen. “These are very good games to have and to see how you handle things late in the game, and I thought we handled them well.
“We had one earlier in the year (a 55-47 overtime loss to second-ranked Laconia), I thought we made some poor decisions, tonight we made some good decisions, and hopefully that maturity did that,” he said. “So that was good to see, that we made the right plays.”
Groshek and Wideman were both named to the All-Classic Team for the Girls American Division, Dose received the Ms. Hustle Award, and Groshek was named the Warren P. Choudoir Outstanding Player for the Girls American Division.
“Usually when you win, you pick up some awards, and I don’t think it was probably easy for them to give out awards, because Grace was outstanding in what she did,” said coach Jensen. “But Wideman did a good job of defending, and she’s long and she got some blocked shots, which was nice. And she deserved that award.
“Sometimes Ashley will look to pass more, and then sometimes she’s in that shoot mode, but she does a good job of looking for her teammates, and then she knocked some shots down, so that was good,” he said. “We’ve got to get a lot of minutes out of her, and we did, and her getting the MVP was a display of two steady days of playing.
“And the Hustle Award, we’ve got a couple of players that are going to hustle and work hard,” he said. “Lindsay is always going to run the floor, and Grace is going to hustle and work for us too, so I thought that it could go to either one of those two. But Lindsay was a good choice, and I was glad one of our girls got it. We always know that she’s going to run the floor hard, so it was good to see her back in the flow, and to get that award is nice for her.”