Portland at Fowler – – Girls Basketball – – The Bleacher Denizen – – February 15, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

After last night’s game in Portland featuring the Raiders against the Eagles of Fowler, tonight, your Bleacher Denizen’s journey takes him to Fowler to watch the Raiders play the Eagles again. However, while I watched the boys’ teams play night, tonight, your Bleacher Denizen is in Fowler to watch as the Division 4 Defending Champion Eagles host the Division 2 Defending Champion Raiders.

The visiting Raiders enter the contest with a 15-1 record. Their only loss this year has been to undefeated Lansing Catholic. They are led by Ashley Bower, a returning All-State player. She is a tall guard who runs the point, shoots the three, aggressively drives to the basket and defends with fervor. Breckyn Werner is a tough defender and rebounder near the basket who can score near the basket and can shoot from distance when needed.

Alivia Densmore and Shalyn Dziewiatkowski are long defenders who can defend anywhere on the floor when needed. Alivia Densmore also has a solid midrange game on offense and can drive to the basket. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski is a defender extraordinaire who has a unique knack of being able to kick the basketball to disrupt offenses. While the opponent does get the ball back, it’s still really disruptive to their offense.

Ava Guilford is a small, but mighty guard who defends aggressively, shoots the three well, helps with the ball handling and is a surprisingly tough rebounder. Malia Thelen provides a strong three point shot and tough perimeter defense. Alexa Weber is a strong rebounder and post defender. Doltza Oiartzabal is a creative ball handler, tough defender and solid three point shooter. She has a real knack for being able to get off a makable shot under difficult circumstances.

Fowler has a 13-2 record. Their only two losses are to undefeated CMAC Foe and Division 4 Poll Leader Portland St. Patrick. They are led by sisters Mia and Emma Riley. Mia is a senior this year; Emma is a junior. Both were All-State last year. As you might expect with sisters, there are a lot of similarities between their games. Mia and Emma are both excellent athletes who are really quick and strong. They are both determined to win, especially on defense. Both of them excel at driving to the basket and distribute the ball well.

Both are excellent rebounders; Mia is especially tough in this area. Both are also fine shooters from distance; Emma is particularly tough from outside. Grace Epkey is a stout defender and rebounder in the post. She frequently overpowers opponents for putbacks and can hit the three point shot when she’s left open. Avery Koenigsknecht and Carly Andros are tough, energetic perimeter defenders who can also hit shots from the three point line.

Madison Wirth brings senior leadership and aggressive defense off the bench. Taylor Weber is another tough perimeter defender for the Eagles.

I guess this is a great time to include the great conversation I had with Emma Halfmann during the halftime of the JV games. Fowler fans know she was a starter and a huge part of last year’s championship team. This year, because of an injury suffered during volleyball, she is not able to play basketball. However, she is still with the team during the games. It was great to learn that she is recovering well from the injury and is able to live her life pretty normally.

I was here for an exciting JV game. The teams battled back and forth in the first half, which ended with Fowler holding an 18-16 lead. The third quarter was even most of the way; Fowler had a spurt for the last part of the quarter and entered the final period holding a 27-22 lead.

Portland cam back in the fourth quarter and finally tied the game at 35-35 with about 1:15 to go. Paige Spedoske hit a shot in the lane with about 30 seconds left and Portland held on to win the game.

Brooke Weber led the Fowler JVs with 11 points. Rebecca Smith supported her teammate with 8 points and Grace O’Hare scored 7 points. Elizabeth Hufnagel added 4 points; Kelcie Pung scored 3 points and Mary Spitzley tallied 2 points.

Paige Spedoske led the victorious Raider JVs with 11 points. Allyson Logel scored 9 points. Jayden Townsend added 8 points and Erica Russman had 7 points. Ella Gruber tallied 2 points.

The Fowler Pep Band led the crowd in singing the National Anthem and did a fine job.

(Hopefully this tune from my “Chuck Krafft” You Tube Channel featuring my long-time good buddy doing the lead vocal to my original song is worthy of being mentioned in a nearby paragraph!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PURLmxT_3Q

It is now time to review the events of this game from the squinty, aging eyes of a senior Bleacher Denizen who was never able to get past church league when he attempted to play basketball in old times. His basketball career was doomed when the games’ inventors refused to allow the bathtub sized basket that he personally suggested. (Missed shots can be SO demoralizing! I was just trying to help!! I WAS!!!)

Portland wins the opening tap. Avery Koenigsknecht knocks the ball away from the Raiders; but Portland recovers. Portland misfires on a threeball from the side. Alivia Densmore snags the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Emma Riley steals a Raider pass. Fowler travels with the ball. (Both teams have read the blog too much recently for the “Basketball cliches can be interesting; I wonder if traveling without the ball would be newsworthy” joke too often, so I guess I will avoid using it.)

Portland throws a pass out of bounds. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Ashley Bower goes coast to coast for a Raider layup to give Portland the first two points of the game. Fowler misses a jump shot from the wing. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball and goes in for an Eagle fast break layup to tie the game. Mia Riley steals the ball and hits a fast break layup to give Fowler a 4-2 lead.

Ashley Bower passes to Shalyn Dziewiatkowski, who hits an eight foot shot from the baseline for Portland to tie the game. Fowler misses a scooping layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Portland gets the ball. Portland is assessed with a traveling violation. Fowler misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Ashley Bower spins and drives to the basket for a layup that gives the Raiders a 6-4 lead.

Fowler misses a three pointer from the wing. Mia Riley blocks a Portland fast break layup. The loose ball goes out of bounds and Portland gets it back. As soon as the ball is inbounded, Emma Riley harasses the pass catcher and forces a Portland turnover. Ava Guilford blocks a Fowler layup. Portland misses a six foot driving shot in the lane.

Fowler turns the ball over. Portland misses a three pointer from the wing; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Raiders get another opportunity. Portland commits an offensive foul. Mia Riley works hard, spins in the lane and is fouled on a layup. She makes both her free throws to tie the game at 6-6 with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter.

Emma Riley knocks a Raider pass out of bounds; Portland gets the ball back. Portland misses a ten foot shot from the baseline. Fowler misses a driving layup. Portland is assessed with an over and back violation. Breckyn Werner gets her hand on the ball and Fowler loses it out of bounds. Emma Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a jump shot from the free throw line. Taylor Weber hits a putback to give Fowler an 8-6 lead.

Portland misses a layup. Emma Riley hits a twelve foot shot from the wing for Fowler. Ashley Bower is fouled on a shot and hits one of her two free throws to trim the Fowler lead to 10-7 with 57.8 seconds to go in the quarter.

Taylor Weber passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot from the wing for Fowler. Ashley Bower reacts quickly to prevent a Raider over and back situation. Portland misses a three point shot from the side and fouls on the rebound. Fowler misses a heave at the buzzer.

After one quarter, Fowler has a 13-7 lead.

Fowler has the ball to open the second quarter. The Eagles miss an eighteen foot shot from the wing. Alivia Densmore passes to Ashley Bower, who hits a three point shot from the wing for Portland. Alivia Densmore blocks an Eagle layup. The loose ball goes out of bounds and Fowler gets another possession. Breckyn Werner knocks the ball away from Fowler and Alivia Densmore picks it up for Portland. Mia Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup.

Emma Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the side. Portland misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler misses a three point attempt from the corner; the rebound goes out of bounds and Portland takes the ball. Portland misses a three pointer from the side. Fowler misses a scooping layup. Avery Koenigsknecht knocks the ball out of bounds; Portland retains possession. Doltza Oiartzabal passes to Alexa Weber, who hits a layup for Portland that trims the Fowler lead to 13-12.

Portland misses a layup. Fowler is assessed with a traveling violation. Ashley Bower drives the baseline and hits a layup to give her Raiders a one point lead. Alivia Densmore and Ashley Bower force an Eagle traveling violation with a double team. Portland misses a driving layup. Emma Riley is fouled on a three pointer from the side and hits one, two, three free throws to give Fowler a 16-14 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first half.

Portland misses a layup. Ashley Bower hits a putback for Portland to tie the game. Fowler misses a layup. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball for the Eagles. Breckyn Werner knocks the ball out of bounds; Fowler retains possession. Fowler misses a sixteen foot shot from the side. Avery Koenigsknecht knocks the ball out of bounds; Portland gets it back. Emma Riley nearly steals the ball for Fowler, but her momentum carries her out of bounds. Portland misses a three point shot from the corner.

Doltza Oiartzabal knocks a Fowler pass into the lane out of bounds to prevent an Eagle layup. Malia Thelen knocks the ball away from the Eagles and Doltza Oiartzabal picks it up for the Raiders. Portland misfires on a threeball from the side. Carly Andros is fouled on the rebound and hits both free throws in a one and one opportunity to give Fowler an 18-16 lead with 31.2 seconds remaining in the half.

Portland misses a three point shot from the side. Ava Guilford is fouled on the rebound and hits two free throws for the Raiders to tie the game. Fowler commits an offensive foul. Ashley Bower drives the lane and dishes to Malia Thelen, who hoists and hits a three point shot from the corner at the buzzer.

Portland has a 21-18 halftime lead.

Emma Riley has 8 points and Mia Riley has 4 points to lead the Fowler halftime scoring.

Ashley Bower has 12 points to lead Portland’s scoring.

Portland has the ball to begin the third quarter. The Raiders miss a three point shot from the wing. The ball gets stuck between the rim and the backboard. Your Bleacher Denizen would be happy to use his aging legs to rocket from the floor to rim to free the basketball from its elevated prison, but will they ask ME?? NOOOO! The ball is knocked down without any help from the Bleacher Denizen and the Possession Arrow decides (without asking ME) to give the ball to Fowler.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets another opportunity. Breckyn Werner blocks a six foot Fowler hook shot; the loose ball is tied up. After looking up from its Tik Tok video, the Possession Arrow decrees that Portland shall have the ball. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski passes to a teammate, who is fouled on a layup, but misses both her free throws. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. With 7:00 to play in the third quarter, the Portland lead remains at 21-18.

Fowler misses a three point attempt from the top of the key. Taylor Weber knocks the ball away from Portland, but the Raiders recover. Portland misses an eight foot shot from the side of the lane. Grace Epkey hits a layup for Fowler. Ashley Bower drives, spins in the lane and hits a layup for Portland. Fowler misses a driving scoop layup. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball back. Fowler misses a layup. Portland misses a three pointer from the top of the key. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski pulls down the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Ava Guilford drives and hits a layup to give Portland a 25-20 lead.

Fowler misfires on a triple try from the wing. Ashley Bower is fouled on a driving layup and hits two free throws to boost Portland to a 27-20 lead with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter.

Shalyn Dziewiatkowski knocks the ball away from Fowler and Ava Guilford picks it up for Portland. Avery Koenigsknecht dives to knock the ball away from Portland and Grace Epkey picks it up for Fowler. Alivia Densmore gets her hand on either a Fowler pass or shot. (I’m not sure which it was.) The ball goes out of bounds and Fowler gets it back. Fowler misses a scooping layup. Grace Epkey blocks a Portland layup.

Fowler misses a layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets another possession. Malia Thelen knocks the ball away from Fowler, but the Eagles recover. Fowler misses a layup. Ava Guilford passes to Ashley Bower, who hits a fast break layup for the Raiders. Emma Riley passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a three point shot from the wing to cut the Portland lead to 29-23.

Carly Andros’ aggressive defense forces a Raider traveling violation. Fowler throws a pass out of bounds. Portland misses a sixteen foot shot from the side. Breckyn Werner pulls down the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland misses a layup and fouls on the rebound. Fowler misses a three point shot from the side. Mia Riley hits a putback to trim the Raider lead to 29-25.

Alivia Densmore passes to Ashley Bower, who hits a three point shot from the wing. Mia Riley drives and bounces a pass to Grace Epkey, who hits a layup for Fowler. Portland misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler commits a traveling violation. Portland misses a six foot hook from the baseline. Ava Guilford and Alivia Densmore team up to force a Fowler turnover with 1.1 seconds left in the third quarter. Portland misses a shot from the top of the key at the buzzer.

After three quarters, Portland holds a 32-27 lead.

Fowler inbounds the ball to get the fourth quarter underway. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Avery Koenigsknecht nearly steals the ball; it goes out of bounds and Portland takes possession. Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Portland and Grace Epkey ties the ball up. The Possession Arrow misses the play because it is watching kitty videos and awards the ball to Portland. Ava Guilford drives and banks in a six foot shot for Portland. Fowler misses a driving layup. Alivia Densmore is fouled and hits one of two free throws in a one and one opportunity. With 6:05 left on the clock, Portland has a 35-27 lead.

Fowler throws a pass out of bounds. Ashley Bower is fouled and sinks both shots in a one and one opportunity for Portland. Fowler throws a pass out of bounds. Alivia Densmore passes to Ashley Bower for a Portland layup. Fowler misses a six foot shot from the side of the lane. Ava Guilford is hammered on a driving layup; the aging Bleacher Denizen would be nursing bruises for years after that one. Ava Guilford shrugs it off and hits one of her two free throws to give Portland a 40-27 lead with 4:01 remaining in the game.

Emma Riley passes to Carly Andros, who relays the ball to Madison Wirth, who hits a long two point shot from the corner for Fowler. Emma Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Ava Guilford blocks a Fowler fast break layup; the ball goes out of bounds and Fowler gets another opportunity. Ashley Bower steals the ball and hits a fast break layup for Portland. Fowler misses a layup. Ava Guilford is fouled and hits one of her two free throws to give the Raiders a 43-29 lead with 2:24 to play.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Portland is fouled, but misses two free throws. Emma Riley throws in a threeball near the top of the key for the Eagles. Ashley Bower is fouled and makes two free throws for Portland. Fowler misses a jumper from the free throw line. Malia Thelen is fouled and hits one of her two free throws. Portland leads 46-32 with 1:42 left in the game.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Mia Riley dives and steals the ball; she passes to Emma Riley, who hits a layup for the Eagles. Ava Guilford is fouled and it is ruled to be intentional. Ava Guilford hits one of her two free throws with 1:01 left. Portland gets the ball after the free throws and runs the final minute off the clock.

Portland wins this battle of the defending state champions by a 47-34 score.

Emma Riley led the Eagle scoring with 13 points. Mia Riley scored 6 points. Avery Koenigsknecht pitched in with 5 points. Grace Epkey had 4 points. Taylor Weber, Carly Andros and Madison Wirth each tallied 2 points.

Ashley Bower had 29 points to lead Portland. Ava Guilford supported her teammate with 9 points. Malia Thelen added 4 points. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski and Alexa Weber each had 2 points. Breckyn Werner scored 1 point.

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