For the Daily News
Six games into the 2012-13 season, the Dieterich girls basketball team is still striving to live up to its potential.
But at least the Lady Movin’ Maroons’ record isn’t taking a hit in the process.
Despite struggling to find a rhythm Monday, Dieterich improved to 5-1 with a 41-33 win at NTC rival Altamont.
Candace Niemerg posted her usual double-double (13 points, 14 rebounds) and Sydney Higgs added 12, but Dieterich never quite put a young and scrappy Altamont team away.
“We’re very excited about our record and stuff, but we’re just not happy with our level of play,” Dieterich coach Donetta Ohnesorge said. “The win tonight just didn’t feel right. I want more, the girls want more. We just haven’t put it together as a team.”
Dieterich led the entire game and opened up a double digit lead after Niemerg started the second half with back-to-back buckets, the latter a fast-break layup that resulted in a three-point play, putting the Lady Maroons up 10, 22-12.
Higgs gave Dieterich a 12-point lead moments later with a jumper, but Altamont refused to go quietly.
The Lady Indians (1-3) cut the Lady Maroons’ lead to single digits several times in the fourth quarter, but ultimately could not overcome a tough shooting night and 21 turnovers.
Altamont hit just 15 of 49 field goals (31 percent). It was an improvement from a loss to Dieterich last week at the NTC Tournament, when the Lady Indians put just 18 points on the board, but still wasn’t enough to get over the hump.
“I’m really proud of how the girls stepped up and played them compared to the last time we played them,” Altamont coach Katie Lurkins said. “I thought we were definitely mentally stronger, physically stronger and fundamentally more sound. But we’re still just looking for that offensive person to step up and take charge.
Dieterich wasn’t exactly lighting it up offensively, as the Lady Maroons shot just 30 percent from the floor (15 for 50). Couple that with improved rebounding by Altamont in the second half (12-11 in favor of the Maroons) and Dieterich was never quite comfortable with its advantage.
“We wanted to broaden the gap, but it just didn’t happen,” Ohnesorge said. “We kinda stayed in a standstill and we did what we needed to get by. We want to be able to put teams away, if at all possible.”
Dieterich was just 1 for 11 from the floor in the second quarter, but still enjoyed a 17-12 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a 20-11 rebounding advantage and 11 Altamont turnovers.
Niemerg struggled shooting in the first half against constant double teams, but managed to pull down nine rebounds and grab two steals. The 6-foot senior standout picked up her game offensively in the second half, however, giving her team a needed boost.
“We rely a lot on Candace to step it up,” Ohnesorge said. “And I think that’s a lot of what kept our momentum going at the start of the second half. They were fronting her all night long and double teaming her when they could when we got the ball on the low side. That’s when I said to the other girls, ‘We’re gonna have to step up.’”
Higgs did, as she became the fourth Lady Maroon this season to reach double figures in the scoring column. Courtney Flach and Rachel Schmidt have also had double figure games for the Lady Maroons, but Ohnesorge is looking for more consistency.
“That’s what we’re lacking right now — eight to 10 points out of all the other players on the floor,” Ohnesorge said. “But Sydney’s pulling through. And I’ll tell you what, Sydney does a lot for this team defensively and offensively. We just want more out of her on the offensive end.”
Mallory Wendling led Altamont with 12 and Lauren Ohnesorge had 10, but the Lady Indians are still clearly adjusting to the graduation losses of top scorers Sadie Spilker and Grace Ziegler. Altamont also missed the services of six-footer Renee Tillman, who missed the game due to a trip to Georgia to receive a youth leadership award.
“I was happy with the effort,” Lurkins said. “We played good, but good wasn’t good enough. I thought the girls responded really well tonight to the challenges I gave them.”
Dieterich’s only loss this season has been to defending Class 1A state runner-up CHBC, but Ohnesorge knows her team has a lot of room for improvement.
“I think we need a good, hard day in the gym — a good, tough practice,” Ohnesorge said.
Dieterich 41, Altamont 33
Dieterich 10 7 14 10 — 41
Altamont 6 6 9 12 — 33
Dieterich — Flach 2 1-2 5, Higgs 6 0-1 12, Niemerg 5 5-5 15, Meinhart 1 0-0 2, Vahling1 0-2 2, Wright 2 1-2 5. Totals 15 6-10 41.
Altamont — M.Ohnesorge 3 1-1 7, L.Ohnesorge 5 0-2 10, Stevenson 1 0-0 2, Wendling 5 2-2 12, Genry 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 3-5 33.
3-point goals — Altamont none, Dieterich none.