MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Jan. 3–10)
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Darlington 58, Lancaster 46
By Natalie Dillon, The Monroe Times
Butler, Schwartz ice victory for Redbirds
DARLINGTON — In a game that was tied four times with five lead changes, Darlington prevailed 58-46 over Lancaster, thanks to late-game efforts from Kylie Butler and Jaylyn Schwartz on Monday, Jan. 9.
Butler drained a three with just under two minutes left to go up by eight, and Schwartz went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to secure the victory.
“We are a tough bunch and we’ve been in this position a lot this season,” head coach Brad Solberg said. “Tonight I felt that, toward the end of the game, we took steps forward. We’ve been in games where that hasn’t happened, so I’m hoping that some of those tougher games are starting to pay off.”
Lancaster got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 9-0 lead. Cassie Nemitz scored the first points. Laniee Burks then intercepted a poor Redbird pass and took it down the court for another two points. Jessica Morgan then scored the next five points, including a three-point play completed at the charity stripe.
Aubrey McCarthy put Darlington on the board — nearly three minutes into the game — with a free throw. Just over two minutes later, the Redbirds tied the game at nine with another two points from McCarthy and a pair of threes from Butler.
The Flying Arrows reclaimed the lead with a fast-break bucket from Burks. Rose White added two points, followed by a 3-pointer from Eden Bowen to give Lancaster a seven-point lead.
Instead of continually getting beat in man-to-man, Darlington switched to zone defense, which proved to be effective.
“We just weren’t moving our feet defensively or getting through screens,” Solberg said. “They ran some nice sets that we weren’t reacting to very well. I felt we could change the pace up and think a little less and react. It got us back in the game and good things happened.”
Butler and Schwartz contributed to the offensive effort, and Jaidyn Evenstad’s bucket tied the game at 20 with just under five minutes left in the half.
The game was tied at 23 just four seconds later, as the two teams exchanged a pair of threes. Neither team scored for two whole minutes, until Jenna Wolf’s free throw broke the stalemate.
Darlington took its first lead with a 3-pointer from Butler, but Butler gave the lead right back as she fouled Bowen in the process of shooting a three. At the line, Bowen went 2-for-3 to tie the game at 26.
Despite a free throw from Schwartz to give the Redbirds a lead with 18.4 seconds left in the half, Lancaster had the final possession. Mallory Olmstead capitalized on the opportunity to score, giving the Arrows a 28-27 lead at halftime.
An offensive rebound from Cayla Golackson early in the opening minutes gave the Redbirds their first lead of the second half. Butler extended it to 34-30 with a basket from beyond the arc, but Lancaster tied it back up with to buckets of their own.
A three from Jessica Morgan gave the Arrows a 37-36 lead, but Schwartz scored for Darlington, giving them the lead for good. In two three-point play opportunities at the line, the Redbirds capitalized on one. Evenstad’s free throw gave the Redbirds a 45-39 lead.
Morgan single-handedly brought Lancaster back within one point, grabbing her own offensive rebound and putting it back in for two, followed by a 3-pointer.
After a free throw from Schwartz, Morgan tied the game at 46 with just over four minutes left in the game. Evenstad popped a three, followed by five points from Butler for and eight-point lead with under two minutes left in the game.
Forced to foul, the Arrows sent Schwartz to the line, where she went 2-for-2. But 30 seconds later, Maddie Gratz went to the line. Although she missed her bonus shot, the Redbirds grabbed the rebound and took ten seconds off the clock before another Lancaster foul.
Schwartz went 2-for-2 at the line again to secure the 58-46 victory.
“Jaylyn is a great kid and when she plays with confidence, those are the things that she can do,” Solberg said of Schwartz’s late-game performance. “We just need that consistently out of her.”
Schwartz and Butler finished in double figures to lead the squad. Butler had a team-high 27 points with seven 3-pointers, while Schwartz was 6-for-7 from the charity stripe. Evenstad was just shy of double figures with nine points. McCarthy tallied six, while Golackson had four.
“Kylie has all of the talent in the world,” Solberg said. “When she gets going, she’s not going to stop. It was fun to see everything fall into place for her tonight. She’s still young — just a freshman — and she’s still learning and growing. I like the way she controlled the game tonight.”
Morgan paced the Arrows with 23 points, including three 3-pointers. The next highest scorer was Burks with nine points.