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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Girls Basketball): #7 Belmont 61, #4 Highland 50
#7 Braves topple #4 Cardinals from the free throw line
Ashley Freeman
Belmont senior Ashley Freeman scores a game-high 20 points to lead Braves over #4 Highland last Thursday night in battle of unbeatens

GIRLS BASKETBALL: #7 Belmont 61, #4 Highland 50

By Tom Gunnell, Republican Journal

BELMONT — In a battle of unbeaten, state-ranked Six Rivers West foes, the Division 5 #7-ranked Belmont Braves went 28-for-38 from the foul line — including a 20-for-26 performance in the second half — to knock off the D5 #4-ranked Highland Cardinals 61—50 conference clash at HHS Thursday night.

“I am really proud of this group’s effort, resiliency and growth,” said Belmont head coach Kaleen McGettigan. “Highland is a very, very good team who are well-coached. We knew it would be a battle going into it and we knew we had to handle their pressure. Highland plays hard, so we had to do the little things to get the win. Our free throws were huge. The best we have shot from the line all year.”

The Braves (9–0 overall, 2–0 SRW) opened up a 28–15 by the end of the first after closing the stanza on a 9–0 scoring run.

Highland (4–1, 1–1) battled all the way back in the second half, tying the score at 46 with 3:14 remaining thanks to a pair of made free throws by senior Katelyn Esser.

Belmont regained the lead a short time later on two free throws by junior Tori Nodolf, which sparked a 13–0 scoring run that nailed down the victory for the Braves.

“I thought we had great defense, especially in the second half,” said McGettigan. “They had a hard time getting a clean look. We also stayed aggressive on the offensive end of things and continued attacking. We were able to get to the free throw line and we converted.”

Senior Ashley Freeman scored seven of her 12 second-half points from the free throw stripe to lead the Braves with a game-high 20 points.

Nodolf finished with 14 points for Belmont, while sophomore Reese Runde sank two 3-pointers on her way to nine points.

“This group truly deserves this 9–0 start,” said McGettigan. “They are hardworking, unselfish, and a great group of young ladies. All of the work these girls have put into the game is paying off and they are enjoying every minute of the process.” 

Esser scored 17 points to top Highland.  

Last Tuesday at Belmont, junior Kennedy Howell buried six of the Braves’ 11 3-pointers en route to a career-high 23 points as coach McGettigan’s crew shot down the visiting Wauzeka–Steuben Hornets, 63–48, in a non-conference meeting.

Howell had three 3s and 12 points in the first half to lead the Braves out to a 27–24 lead, and then added three more treys and 11 points in the second half to guide the hosts to the victory.

Junior Chloe Crapp scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds for Belmont, while junior Mia Hodgson tallied nine points and a team-high six assists and Tori Nodolf tallied nine points, nine boards and three steals for the Braves.

Senior Maddy Reichmann scored 17 points for the Hornets (5–2) 

Belmont has upcoming games scheduled at home against River Ridge (2–4, 0–2) in SRW action Friday night, and then will head to Soldiers Grove to face North Crawford (1–3) in a non-conference game on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

#7 Belmont 61, #4 Highland 50
(from Thursday, Dec. 9 @ Highland)
Belmont........28 33 — 61 
Highland......15 35 — 50   
Belmont (9–0, 2–0) — Lainey Riecher 2, Mia Hodgson 5, Rylee Rogers 4, Ashley Freeman 20, Bailey Mester 2, Tori Nodolf 14, Reese Runde 9, Kennedy Howell 5. Totals — 14-38 61.
Highland (4–1, 1–0) — Ella Cody 2, Harlee Fredericks 8, Katelyn Mueller 4, Meg Tarrell 7, Malayna Fredericks 6, Katelyn Esser 13, Rachel Miller 10. Totals — 18-60 11-19 50.
3-point goals — B: 5-13 (Hodgson 1, Freeman 2, Nodolf 2), H: 4-24 (H. Fredericks 1, Mueller 1, Tarrell 1). Team fouls — B: 16, H: 28. Fouled out — H: M. Fredericks, Millers.

#7 Belmont 63, Wauzeka–Steuben 48
(from Tuesday, Dec. 7 @ Belmont)
Wauzeka–Steuben...24 24 — 48   
Belmont......................27 36 — 63 
Wauzeka–Steuben (4–2) — Hurda 4, Ralph 5, Berger 1, Olsen 7, Groom 11, Reichmann 17, Mitchell 3. Totals – 16 12-21 48.
Belmont (8–0) — Lainey Riechers 2, Mia Hodgson 9, Rylee Rogers 2, Chloe Crapp 12, Ashley Freeman 2, Tori Nodolf 9, Reese Runde 4, Kennedy Howell 23. Totals — 21-52 10-20 63.
3-point goals — WS: 4 (Hurda 1, Ralph 1, Reichmann 2), B: 11-30 (Crapp 3, Nodolf 1, Runde 1, Howell 6). Team fouls — WS: 16, B: 20. Fouled out — none.