Warriors KO Wolves in regional tourney
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD — The crowd at Winfield-Mt. Union high school expected another tight game between two rival schools on Thursday night, but the WACO girls had other plans.
The Warriors dominated the rival Wolves, getting revenge for a previous loss in a big way with a 57-29 victory to knock W-MU out of the postseason.
WACO made it more than clear that they were ready to roll in the first half. The Warriors won the first quarter, 12-6, and stretched their lead to a 28-13 lead at halftime.
Kristen Conley was the big hitter for the Warriors early. She had a red-hot couple of quarters shooting the ball and ended the first half with 14 points, outscoring the Wolves by herself.
The Warriors kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter, as WACO stretched its lead to 45-21 to take a 24-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The Wolves could never get a big enough run started to put the pressure on WACO. The Warriors continued to cruise, winning the fourth quarter by four points and walking away with an impressive 28-point win.
“We thought it was going to be a close game and we played well tonight,” WACO coach Shannon Rugg said after the contest. “We shot the ball well, we took care of the ball and we rebounded the ball well. Defensively, I thought we did an outstanding job the majority of the time.”
Conley added six points in the second half to finish at 20 points, which led all scorers. Halle Kissell played consistently well with nine points in the first half and 10 in the second to add 19 of her own.
“(Conley) has been shooting the ball well for us, Halle has been playing a lot better and Kiana (Miller) had an off night but she’s been playing well,” Rugg said after the win. “We’ve got three girls that can score the basketball and that’s the first time we’ve had that in a long time.”
Kasey Suttons scored six points in the win. Miller had five. Nadiyah Brown had four. Ashleigh Hallett finished with two and Clara Schmitz had one.
W-MU head coach Mitch Wachs said his team was disappointed but credited WACO with a great game.
“I have to give them credit,” he said. “They played a great game tonight. We didn’t play well. Our season is over and they’re moving on.”
Wachs said the offensive struggles was a key to the loss, again crediting the Warriors for throwing W-MU out of their rhythm.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Wachs said. “A lot of that had to do with their defense. We were just very ineffective everywhere tonight.”
One bright spot for W-MU was senior Hannah Mathews, who stepped up with nine points in the second half to finish the game with a team-leading 13.
“I challenged them at halftime (saying) somebody’s got to make a play, and she did,” Wachs said. “She’s done that all year. Not necessarily scoring (but) she’s been our catalyst defensively. When she was on the floor, she was making plans and she created offense off of her defense.”
Pearl Krieger-Coble was second on the team with seven points. Lexee Hartsock scored four. Kara Wade and Allie McArtor had two points apiece and Karley Schlee finished with one.
WACO (7-15) moves on in the tournament to play a tough Lone Tree team that moved to 17-5 on Thursday night when they knocked out Keota, 59-22.
The Lions and Warriors will square off for the first time this season on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Lone Tree. The winner of that game will play the winner of Easton Valley vs. Prince of Peace in the regional semifinals on Friday night.