It was all fun and games for the Wisconsin GLO on Sunday afternoon at the Menominee Nation Arena.
Well, at least until that Elam Ending kicked in.
The GLO put on an impressive, high-scoring showcase in an impromptu intrasquad scrimmage after the team’s scheduled opponent – the Chicago Breeze – was unable to show because of travel issues. In the end, the GLO Green defeated the GLO Blue 115-109 with the players enjoying the opportunity to face off against each other under game conditions.
“I think it was kind of a blessing in disguise that we were able to do an intrasquad scrimmage today. That was a lot of fun,” Jessica Kelliher said. “And we’re all competitive so it turned into a pretty good game.”
With the limited practice time the team has had so far this season, head coach Lauren Busalacchi was pleased with the opportunity to get the team out on the court together.
“For us to go against each other, we haven’t had a lot of those opportunities,” Busalacchi said. “We haven’t practiced a lot this year up to this point, so to use this as a practice and be able to evaluate if there are some people who might be capable of more than what we have shown with some of the minutes was great. As well as for our players to go against pretty good competition.”
It was also a way for the team to continue to build its chemistry as the team looks to make a push in the final weekends of the regular season.
“We’ve wanted to do that for a while,” Julie Wojta said. “We go hard in practice against each other but with the jerseys and the fans, it’s a little different. I wouldn’t say we went (a full) 100 percent but then that competitive spirit takes over a bit and it turned out to be a fun little day.”
The game featured 19 lead changes and nine ties as well as a 17-0 run by the GLO Green in the first quarter as they grabbed a 32-26 lead after the opening period. GLO Blue narrowed the gap to one at halftime and took a 85-84 lead into the final quarter.
The two teams played the first five-plus minutes of the fourth quarter under normal game conditions, but after the first deadball after the five-minute mark, the game was stopped and the Elam Ending kicked in.
With an Elam Ending, a final point total is set with the first team to reach that mark registering the win. The score was tied at 104 when the Elam Ending began and at that point the intensity of the game changed a little bit.
It was still fun, just with a little bit of an edge.
“At the end, you want to have bragging rights,” Kelliher said. “Everyone turns it up just a little bit.”
Added Wojta: “The competitive spirit comes out and you can’t deny that. I think even when we are 60 we will be like that.”
Wojta and Jolene Anderson each scored four points in the final stage, with Kelly Moten adding a 3-pointer to break a 106-106 tie and put the GLO Green ahead for good.
Wojta, who had a huge night in the win, finishing with a game-high 38 points and 11 rebounds, ended the game with a lay-in from in front of the basket.
“I think with these games, it’s a little more free. All of us move and pass well together,” said Wojta, who finished 19-of-25 from the floor. “That’s the same when I played in Green Bay. Every single person on the floor can score, can rebound, can play defense and every night it was just someone different.”
Anderson added 32 points and a team-high 12 rebounds in the win. She knocked down four 3-pointers in the game and joined Wojta for a 1-2 punch that the GLO Blue couldn’t match.
“That’s what Jolene can do. That’s why people love watching her play and why she is still playing. She is still so good,” Busalacchi said. “There were stakes on the table and Julie and Jolene definitely take that personally. That’s how we want everybody to play.”
Moten nearly had a triple-double in the game with 17 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds,while Frankie Wurtz chipped in 13 points,
The GLO Blue was much more balanced in its scoring with Kelliher leading the way with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Angela Rodriguez hit six 3-pointers and finished with 26 points and nine assists, while Allaziah Blockton and Hannah Whitish added 25 and 24 points, respectively.
“When we are playing in games now we are playing with the same teammates a lot, so any chance we get to mix up the rotations and to get an extended period of time with that helps us,” Kelliher said. “You start to get more comfortable. It was just a lot of fun and the more we played, the better we looked.”
The scrimmage should serve as a good lead-in to a big upcoming weekend for the GLO as they welcome the St. Louis Surge to the Menominee Nation Arena. The Surge handed the GLO their only loss so far this year.
The two teams play Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
“It’s great preparation for this weekend,” Busalacchi said. “Today was important because the more time we;re together, the better off we should be. Also to give the fans to get to know the GLO a little bit more. Those were the things we could get out of this today.”