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Micolichek, VanNoie advance Vikings to second round

The Denmark News - Staff Photo - Create Article

By Kelly Fenton

The Denmark News

DENMARK – There was no looking ahead to Xavier when the Denmark girls opened the Division 3 postseason hosting 9-15 Kiel on Tuesday evening.

Kiel, like Denmark, is full of underclassmen and they demonstrated in the second half they have plenty of talent to be an up-and-comer like the Vikings.

But a fierce first-half defensive effort, Kiarrah Micolichek’s 29 points and Amelia VanNoie’s 14 rebounds was plenty enough to carry the Vikings to a 62-48 victory.

Their reward is a trip to top seed Xavier on Friday night.

Micolichek was on fire out of the gates, scoring the Vikings’ first 11 points as Denmark ripped off 15 straight after the Raiders scored the first bucket of the game. She scored 19 of the Vikings’ 26 first-half points but Kiel was still hanging around at halftime, trailing only by 11 despite eight turnovers, 6-of-19 shooting and going 0-of-6 from the line.

A 10-2 run to open the second half, led by the fourth and fifth Micolichek three-pointers, extended the lead to 36-17 and the Vikings kept the Raiders at arm’s length the rest of the way.

The victory improved Denmark to 15-10 and matched the most wins by the program since the 2015-16 season.

Micolichek insisted win totals aren’t the focus of her team, though.

“We’re just trying to keep winning and keep moving farther,” she said, and noted how far the team has come since opening day. “I think everyone has improved and come together. At the beginning of the season, we knew we were such a young team and it was going to be difficult going up against older teams. But everyone has stepped up and they all have a role.

“And it’s huge to have a bench that can come in and get points and rebounds for us.”

Denmark used mostly a 1-3-1 zone to challenge the Raider’s attempts to use some of their height to get inside. Kiel didn’t get its second basket until the 7:03 mark, more than 10 minutes after it scored its first bucket. But some tough shooting by the Vikings allowed the Raiders to crawl back into it and they trailed only 17-10 with 3:21 left. Micolichek hit another three and a 12-footer in the lane and Madison Antolec added a three as Denmark carried a 26-15 lead into halftime.

The Vikings struggled at times against Kiel’s zone which shifted from 3-2 to 1-3-1, though in the second half they found gaps and scored 36 points.

“We really worked in practice on going against their zone,” Micolichek said. “They like to switch it up a lot and our main focus was identifying it and attacking and knowing we could get to the basket.”

Both team’s defenses faltered in the second half, though, as Denmark let the bigger Raiders slash to the basket for layups.

“I think they found the weak spots in the second half,” Micolichek said. “Their coach recognized that our baseline was a little off. But that’s something we can watch in film and work on.”

The Vikings owned the boards, led, unofficially, by VanNoie’s 14. Paige Selner grabbed seven as well.

“Amelia getting those boards lets us push the ball up and that’s easy buckets for us,” Micolichek said. “We work on transition every day in practice.”

Allie VanVonderen added 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Selner and VanNoie each added six points. Denmark finished 23 of 56 from the field, 7 of 21 from deep. The Raiders went 1 of 9 from the line and made only 5 of 21 from beyond the arc.

In Xavier (17-7), Denmark will face a team that doesn’t shoot it very well but shoots it often, thanks to an average rebound advantage of nearly 10. The Hawks have launched nearly twice as many shots as their opponents this year.

The Hawks, who won the Bay Conference, are led by Carsyn Stempa’s 12.5 points, followed by Ellie Kurl (9.8) and 6-foot Halle Vande Hey (9.0). 


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