BANGOR — They defended and they bounced back.
They created free runs by forcing turnovers and earned extra opportunities by getting their hands on loose basketballs under their own basket.
The Bangor High School girls’ basketball team was certainly impressed with those aspects of their performance in Thursday night’s 91-50 Scenic Bluffs conference win over visiting Cashton.
It makes Coach Merlin Jones smile under the mask he wears watching the Cardinals play.
“We lost our top two rebounders from last year’s team, so there was a void we had to fill,” Jones said. “Defensive presence and rebounding are two things we need everyone to help with.”
Bangor has shown against Cashton that he can perform those duties, and being able to do so consistently is sky-high for the Cardinals, who are 15-0 overall, 7-0 in the league. conference and are ranked second in Division 5 by The Associated Press. .
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The Cardinals have excelled in recent years with balance, and that’s perhaps more true this season than any other.
“There’s a ton of skill in this group,” Jones said. “What we have to do is make everyone understand that almost anyone can play in any position.
“They’re very equal in terms of height, we have guards who can post and score in the paint, and we have post players who can play on the perimeter.”
The hope is that interchangeable rosters can lead to the kind of continuity needed to give themselves a shot at competing for another WIAA State Championship, and that’s what the Cardinals want.
When your program has played in four of the last five state tournaments, won it in 2018, and is 188-34 (an .847 winning percentage) in the last nine-plus seasons, expectations are everything. just different.
This is not lost on Jones or his players, who have worked hard to create these expectations. Aliyah Langrehr and her teammates have all followed the previous teams.
“I looked up to the girls on the program so much,” Langrehr said. “The 2018 team (state champions), obviously we look up to them a bit, and it’s really cool to have the chance to be those girls.
“We want to go out and play like they did and like other teams did.”
The rosters Jones must use this season are interchangeable in many ways, and that’s another reason for the continued success in the regular season and playoffs.
In addition to shared skill sets, Cardinals always seem to have a balance across grade levels, which means Jones is never left to fill an empty closet with talent.
Bangor’s leading scorer is junior Nora Tucker, who averages 17.5 points per game. Seniors Taylor Jacobson (12.4), Langrehr (10.1) and Madeline Janisch (6.5), junior Joeryn Freit (4.0) and rookie Anna Fronk (9.1) are other reliable scorers around it and form a group that relieves the pressure on itself to fill the basket.
Jacobson and Langrehr – after Tucker – are the most consistent, but Jansich scored at least 10 points on three occasions, Freit scored 13 against Cashton on Thursday and Fronk scored 20 in a big win over second-placed Royall.
“It helps a lot,” Jacobson said of the balance. “If we have a girl who has a free evening, we can always count on someone else. We always talk if one night is not your night, it could be the next, and we are always ready for that .
Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX