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MURDOCK – The Elmwood-Murdock girls outplayed Yutan for the first eight minutes of their season-opening basketball game Thursday night.

The Chieftains turned the tables on the Knights during the final 24 minutes of action.

Yutan overcame an early deficit to defeat Elmwood-Murdock 35-21 in E-M’s gym. The team went on a 19-4 run in the second period to win the conference game. Yutan fell behind 7-1 in the first quarter but entered the halftime locker room up 20-11.

Elmwood-Murdock head coach Paul Dwyer said Yutan’s defensive abilities kept the Knights from gaining scoring traction. The Chieftains prevented E-M from driving in the lane and contested nearly every jumper on the perimeter.

“Defensively Yutan played a real physical style of basketball and we weren’t comfortable with that for most of the game,” Dwyer said. “Yutan’s a good team every year and they did a nice job against us. You have to give them credit for what they did defensively. They kept us from being as crisp on offense as we wanted to be.”

Elmwood-Murdock controlled the opening quarter with its own defensive effort. E-M forced six turnovers in the first eight minutes and held Yutan to 0-of-6 shooting from the floor. Paetyn Florell and Brenna Schmidt both scored baskets for Elmwood-Murdock after Yutan giveaways.

The Chieftains recalibrated after the first period. Johanna Vandenack produced five straight points and a 3-pointer from Brennan Jacobs tied things at 9-9. Laycee Josoff’s drive on the next possession gave Yutan its first lead of the night.

Sydney Anderson’s assist to Lauren Justesen early in the third quarter cut Yutan’s lead to 23-13, but the Chieftains kept the Knights from collecting additional momentum. The team led 28-15 after three quarters and stretched the gap to double digits late in the game.

Justesen led Elmwood-Murdock’s offense with eight points. She also took one charge and had three rebounds and one steal.

Schmidt produced six points, three blocks and 11 rebounds in the paint. Anderson posted one point, one assist and three boards and Florell had two points and two rebounds. Jayden Halferty pitched in four points and three rebounds.

Lexi Bacon tallied two rebounds and two steals and Bailey Frahm hauled in two rebounds. Katelyn Vogler, Kylee Rieflin, Ella Zierott and Sela Rikli all saw court time.

Dwyer said a large part of the postgame message focused on the fact that the team would have more chances to walk onto the court. He said the Knights will use the season opener as a learning experience.

“We talked about that after the game,” Dwyer said. “We play 20-plus games for a reason, and it’s because you get the chance to improve over the course of the year. Our girls are good kids and they’ll keep doing the small things correctly in practice and games. That will help us achieve our bigger goals by the end of the season.”

Yutan                         1 19 8 7 – 35

Elmwood-Murdock    7   4 4 6 – 21

Yutan (35)

Davis 0-9 3-4 3, Kerkman 1-3 0-0 3, Jacobs 3-4 1-2 9, Josoff 1-6 0-0 2, Vandenack 5-11 1-2 12, Lloyd 0-0 0-0 0, Krajicek 0-3 0-0 0, Moroschak 1-2 0-0 0, Pohl 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 12-40 5-8 35.

Elmwood-Murdock (21)

Anderson 0-10 1-3 1, Frahm 0-6 0-0 0, Justesen 3-7 2-4 8, Halferty 1-2 2-2 4, Schmidt 2-9 2-2 6, Florell 1-1 0-0 2, Bacon 0-3 0-0 0, Vogler 0-0 0-0 0, Zierott 0-0 0-0 0, Rieflin 0-1 0-0 0, Rikli 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 7-39 7-11 21.

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