GAME OF THE WEEK (Jan. 3–Jan. 9)
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Cuba City 52, Darlington 42
DARLINGTON — With first-place in the SWAL on the line, Cuba City found a way to rally in the second half to defeat Darlington and grab sole possession of the conference lead.
Junior forward Kiera Holzemer scored 12 of her team-high 14 points during a 19-0 scoring run by the Lady Cubans that turned a nine-point deficit into a 10-point lead and four of her teammates combined to go 8-of-10 from the foul line in the final minute, 34 seconds to locked down a 52-42 SWAL girls’ basketball victory over the host Redbirds at DHS on Thursday, Jan. 3.
The two teams came into the night tied atop the SWAL and both riding seven-game winning streaks. The Cubans improved to 6-0 in the SWAL and 9-2 overall after securing their eighth consecutive win, while the Redbirds dipped to 5-1 in the league and 9-2 overall on the season.
“You certainly have to feel good about where we are at, and have benefited from the hard work the girls have put in. But, the season is a marathon and we need to continue to improve and stay healthy,” said Cuba City head coach Jeff Pustina.
Three-pointers by seniors Courtney Busch and Taylor Redfern (two) shot the Cubans out to an early 15-11 lead.
Darlington closed the first half on a 13-4 scoring run to overtake the Cubans and build up a 24-19 halftime advantage. Senior guard Kaylee Meyers sank a pair of treys and scored 10 points to lead the Redbirds in the half.
Back-to-back baskets by seniors Kathleen Mathias and Bethany McDonald extended Darlington’s lead to 32-23 early in the second half.
Junior Sophia Sander scored off an assist from Holzemer to start off the Cubans’ 19-0 run. Holzemer followed with a pair of three-point plays and three other baskets in the post to erase the deficit and thrust the Cubans into the lead, while junior McKenzie Calvert added a 3-pointer and senior Elizabeth Misky netted a 2-pointer to put Cuba City up 44-34 with 3:16 to play.
“We are constantly preaching discipline and being strong with the ball. Both of those areas contributed to the run that we were able to achieve in the second half,” Pustina commented. “Defensively, we were very active with our help defense and contained penetration during that stretch. But, finishing the off the possession with the board is always huge.”
Meyers halted the Redbirds’ 10-minute scoring drought with a basket, and junior Maddie Crist followed with another to trim the gap to 44-38 with two minutes remaining.
Busch sank four free throws in the final 94 seconds, while Misky added two free throws and Sander and senior Jadyn Reese each hit one to help the Cubans put the 'Birds away.
Holzemer scored all 14 of her points in the second half to lead the Cubans. Busch tallied 11 points and Misky scored eight, while Redfern netted six and Calvert added five for Cuba City.
Meyers finished with a game-high 16 points for the Redbirds. Mathias chipped in with 10 points and McDonald scored five for the hosts.
Cuba City hosts Mineral Point (9-2, 5-1) in a key SWAL clash on Friday, Jan. 11, to finish off the first half of the season, and then hosts Dodgeville (4-7) in a non-conference contest on Monday, Jan. 14.
“We have some time to prep for Point, but they are very talented and it should be another dog fight,” noted Pustina.
Cuba City 52, Darlington 42
(From Thursday, Jan. 3 @ Darlington)
Cuba City……. 19 33 – 52
Darlington…… 24 18 – 42
Cuba City – Jenna Droessler 2, Elizabeth Misky 8, Courtney Busch 11, Kiera Holzemer 14, Sophia Sander 3, Jadyn Reese 3, McKenzie Calvert 5, Taylor Redfern 6. Totals – 18 12-17 52.
Darlington – Brenna McDonald 2, Bethany McDonald 5, Lizzie Schwartz 2, Casey Glendenning 1, Kathleen Mathias 10, Reagan Crist 2, Maddie Crist 4, Kaylee Meyers 16. Totals – 15 9-10 42.
3-point goals– CC 4 (Busch 11, Mc. Calvert 1, Redfern 2), D 3 (Be. McDonald 1, Meyers 2). Total fouls– CC 12, D 18. Fouled out– D: Mathias, Meyers.