Milford upsets Malcolm in girls' basketball


They knew this would be a tough stretch. In a three-game span, the Malcolm girls’ basketball team has faced three ranked opponents, each with distinctively different styles of play.

“I was hopeful we could come out of this stretch winning at least two of three,” Malcolm head coach Andy Klepper said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”

After a hard fought 58-51 win over Class C2 No. 3 Oakland-Craig in the Dec. 30 Malcolm Holiday Tournament championship game, the Clippers were tripped up last week by No. 10 Milford, 42-36 and top-ranked Bridgeport, 72-50.

“It was a huge week,” Milford Coach Bryce Roth said.

In addition to ranked Malcolm the Eagles played ranked Pender and contender Falls City.

The Eagles struck first in the Jan. 5 contest in Malcolm as quality shooting from long distance propelled Milford to a six-point first quarter lead.

“I felt like we came out really flat,” Klepper said. “We struggled all night to get anything going.”

“We got off to a great start,” Roth said.

Over the next two quarters, Malcolm gained the upper hand and took a one-point lead into the final frame in the low scoring affair.

“Give credit to Milford, they play really good defense,” Klepper said. “We didn’t get a lot of good looks and forced too many shots. Points were hard to come by.”

“We knew it would be a battle,” Roth said. “They have so many weapons.”

The Eagles owned the final eight minutes and hit their free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

“They are a very patient team,” Klepper said about Milford. “They move the ball well and they don’t take bad shots. It felt like we were playing defense all night.”

“Free throws were huge,” Roth said.

Milford was 11-13 at the line.

Roth said the Eagles played good defense, especially Izzy Yeackley who was tasked with guarding Alyssa Fortik, Malcolm’s leading scorer.

“We were fortunate to get out with a win,” Roth said.

Ayla Roth led the Eagles with 16 points.

Both teams traveled to Kearney Jan. 7 for the Nebraska Girls Basketball Showcase. The battle between Malcolm and undefeated Bridgeport was the fifth of eight games on the day.

“It’s a pretty cool event that they put on,” Klepper said. “It’s a honor to be included. It’s a good chance to see how we match up with a team we wouldn’t normally have on our schedule.”

The Clippers went toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs through the first half, even having the lead until a buzzer-beater three-pointer sent Bridgeport into the break up by two.

“We shot really well in the first half,” Klepper said. “It’s hard to keep that going for four quarters. The second half didn’t go well.”

Bridgeport had the advantage in both size and depth which helped the Bulldogs pull away in the second half.

Ruthie Loomis-Goltl – a 6-3 Colorado commit – led Bridgeport by going 9-of-13 from the field to score 22 points. Goltl’s sister, Olivia – a 5-10 Northern Colorado commit – scored 20 points. Mackenzie Llakos and Ella Schluterbusch added 13 and 11 respectively.

“We knew the sisters would be hard to stop,” Klepper said. “You just hoped no one else would get hot. They’ve got a lot of talent.”

Halle Dolliver led the way for Malcolm as she knocked down five three-pointers and went 9-of-10 at the line to lead all scorers with 28 points.

“Halle battled the whole day,” Klepper said. “She was fighting hard clear to the end. There was no quit in her.”

The freshman had eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots. Fortik was also in double figures. The senior went 3-of-6 from long range and finished with 11 points.

The most glaring stat for Malcolm was its 23 turnovers.

“We obviously didn’t handle their pressure well at times,” Klepper said. “When we try to force things too much, bad things happen.”

Milford was paired with Class C2 #3 Pender and came up just short, 40-36. Coach Roth said Tanya Miller’s 5-7 night from three-point range helped keep the Eagles in the game.

The coach said the team’s offense struggled against Pender’s zone defense. However, MHS held the Pendragons to five points in the third quarter.

Coach Roth and the Eagles had the lead in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold off Pender.

“They’re explosive. They average 55 a game,” Coach Roth said.

Overall, it was a great environment for the team, he said, describing it as like the state tournament.

Milford started the week with a 31-28 win over Falls City, a game that came down to a last-second shot, Coach Roth said.

“We love drama,” he said.

Ayla Roth led the team with 19 points, and Yeackley grabbed 10 rebounds.

Malcolm (9-3) has a couple of get well games on its schedule this week. The Clippers travel to Ralston (1-9) on Thursday, Jan. 12, before hosting Nebraska City (1-7) Friday, Jan. 13.

Milford (10-3) defeated Syracuse 38-26 Jan. 10 and will host Thayer Central Saturday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m.