By Ryan Hines
ROCKFORD -- The return of Danae Spieles helped spark a struggling Minster offense on Thursday night as the Wildcats hit a season-high for points in a game during their 61-54 victory over Park-way in a Mid-west Athletic Conference matchup.
Spieles was seeing her first action of the season since a shoulder injury (along with a sprained ankle) sustained in the postseason a year ago and was one of three Wildcats in double figures joining Jodie Quinter and Laura Gruber with 14 points apiece for the trio.
Minster head coach Nann Stechschulte sure was happy to see Spieles returning from injury and thinks it played a key role in the top offensive output of the season for the Wildcats.
"This was Danae's first competition of any kind since last March in the last tournament game and I think that she just brings a presence to the team and she just does everything," said Stechschulte. "She handles the ball, she rebounds, she scores and she just makes everyone else so much better. With her on the floor, it's just one more player that the defense has to worry about. and she takes pressure off everyone else when she's in there. She makes a huge difference for us.
"We had a goal that we wanted to score double figures in every quarter and we were able to do that for the first time this year," added Stechschulte. "There have been games this year where we didn't score in double figures in any quarter so we improved offensively." The Wildcats (1-4) sealed the win at the free-throw line hitting 11-of-12 in the last 1:33 of the fourth quarter to hold off a spirited Parkway (1-6) squad that played well for most of the evening.
Minster held a slim lead for most of the game, with Parkway's deficit never any higher than nine points.
The Wildcats held a 42-36 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Parkway's Erika Snyder kept the (Continued from page 10A)
Panthers in the game. Snyder scored seven of the first nine points for Parkway in the fourth quarter and pulled the Panthers to within a four-point deficit at the 3:27.
Minster then began to spread out the offense to consume some time off the clock and Parkway was forced to foul with 1:33 remaining in the game.
Spieles went 6-for-6, Nikki Wente shot 3-for-4 and Jenna Blackburn converted on both of her free-throw opportunities to seal the win for Minster.
"Making our free throws was a big key for us tonight and making 11 of our last 12, that's wonderful," said Stechschulte. "Every coach I think would be happy with making 11 of the last 12 at the end of the game."
"It's tough to make a comeback when you have to go out and foul and a good team goes to the line and makes the free throws," stated Sensabaugh. They made their free throws down the stretch."
Tiffany Steinbrunner hit for a game-high 18 points and pulled down a game-best 11 rebounds to lead the Parkway cause. Steinbrunner kept Parkway in the game during the first half, where she scored 15 of the Panthers' 24 first-half points.
Stechschulte was quick to praise Steinbrunner's play and noted that defending the Panthers' top player was the Wildcats' top priority in the second half.
"Steinbrunner scored 15 points of their 24 in the first half and they were doing some nice things offensively," said Stechschulte. "The key in the game for us was that she only got three more points in the second half and that was because we pressured their guards a lot more in the second half and didn't allow them to get the ball to her. Cheryl Steinemann was giving up some inches out there (Steinbrunner is listed at 6-2 while Steinemann stands just 5-8), but she did her role of what she was supposed to do and did a good job out there on defense."
"Defensively, Minster really put a lot more pressure on our guards in the second half which prevented us at getting good looks at getting Tiffany the ball," agreed Sensabaugh.
Snyder also posted a strong offensive evening for the Panthers scoring 15 points while Jayme Marbaugh also hit for double figures with 12 points in addition to Steinbrunner's game-high total.
"On Saturday, I think that we really started to improve against Botkins only losing by four and then when we got our first win against Ansonia I think that added to our confidence and that was just huge for us," said Sensabaugh.
Minster and Parkway will both be in holiday tournaments when they hit the floor next on Dec. 27 and 29. The Wildcats will participate in the Vicki Mauk Classic against Toledo Scott at Elida while the Panthers will travel to the Lincolnview Invitational to play the host Lancers.