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Teamwork does the job
Monroe senior Gwen Sutter drives to the basket against Oregon senior April Cook in the Cheesemakers 65-46 win Saturday. Monroe, ranked No. 1 in the and Associated Press Division 2 polls, remained unbeaten as Sutter scored 12 points and was one of five players in double figures.
MONROE - Monroe girls basketball coach Kevin Keen always stresses that to be a dangerous team it takes several scorers.

The Cheesemakers (14-0, 8-0 Badger South) had all five starters in double figures and used a balanced attack to roll to a 65-46 win over Oregon Saturday.

Monroe senior Jamie Armstrong scored a team-high 16 points. Junior Kylee Ritschard had 13 points and senior Gwen Sutter had 12. Senior Ashley Hermanson, a Nebraska-Kearney recruit, added 11 and Chelsea Brice chipped in 10.

"Obviously, we had some good passes and teamwork," Keen said. "It's a sign of a good ballclub. It's not like you can just stop or shut down one player. Tonight, we proved we have at least five and Kyleigh Sellnow is coming back into the mix."

Sellnow missed the game with a groin pull, but the Cheesemakers didn't miss a beat. Monroe, ranked No. 1 in the Division 2 Associated Press and Coaches polls, used an 11-0 first quarter run to take control of the game. Brice hit a jumper to start the first quarter and Ritschard followed by drilling a 3-pointer. Armstrong scored down low with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Cheesemakers an 11-0 lead. Monroe held the Panthers without a field goal for over six minutes. Oregon senior Kelly Hanson hit a jumper at 1:32, which was the Panthers' first field goal.

Oregon (7-8, 3-5) outscored Monroe 10-5 to start the second quarter to cut into the Cheesemakers' 14-point lead. Oregon junior Kali Jahn drained a 3-pointer and Hanson scored to cut the Cheesemakers' lead to 20-12 with 3:06 left in the period. The Panthers assured the Cheesemakers' lead would stay at eight after senior April Cook hit a running jumper right before the buzzer to slice the Cheesemakers' halftime lead to 25-17.

"We realized they were not going to just quit and let us win," Armstrong said. "We had to fight for a lot and prove that we wanted it as well. We had to keep fighting."

The Cheesemakers used an 11-4 third-quarter run to seize control and cruised from there. Armstrong nailed a jumper and scored down low on back-to-back possessions to give the Cheesemakers a 36-21 lead with 4:32 to go in the third quarter.

"In the second quarter, I don't think we played with the same intensity as we did in the first," Keen said. "In the second half, we shot the ball well and played much better defensively."

Ritschard scored seven of her 13 points in the third quarter including a 3-pointer which gave the Cheesemakers a 44-23 lead with 2:17 left in the period.

"We knew we could play better than we did in the first half," Ritschard said. "I think we got more fired up. We had to take the ball to the basket stronger. We had to take it to them more."

Monroe hosts Sauk Prairie Thursday and plays at Freeport Saturday. The game with greater implications may be against Sauk Prairie (13-2, 7-1 Badger North). The Eagles are ranked 13th in the Coaches Poll and are led by Bradley recruit Kelsey Budd, who last year beat the then undefeated Cheesemakers on a buzzer-beater.

"I don't want to lose to Sauk Prairie," Armstrong said. "There is some history there. I think with every game we are trying to improve. We are trying to get better and better."

The Eagles are in Division 2 this year and could be a potential tournament opponent later this year.

"It will be a good test for us and a potential opponent down the road," Keen said.

After playing one game a week for part of the season, the Cheesemakers are entering a key stretch with games against Waunakee and Milton looming.

"I think it will be more of a pick-up for the season," Armstrong said of the critical stretch. "We are jumping into it now."

Keen isn't sure if Sellnow will be available to play this week as she recovers.

"It's kind of day to day at this time," he said.