BENTON – When coaching friends Nathan Russell of Benton/Shullsburg and Mike Flanagan of Black Hawk scheduled their non-conference game against one another, they were each hoping for a good, early-season challenge for their young but talented teams.
However, with Black Hawk’s All-State point guard Jen Wellnitz sidelined due to a concussion, it was more of a challenge for Coach Flanagan’s squad than for Coach Russell’s crew as the hosts Zephyr-Miners rolled to a 58-34 victory over the Lady Warriors at Benton High School on Friday, Nov. 30.
“We would have loved to have them at full strength. That was one of the reasons we scheduled this game because they are a heavyweight,” said Russell. “I’m pleased with our performance, but it would have been better if Jen had played.”
The Zephyr-Miners (2-0 overall) charged out to an 11-4 lead by the close of the opening quarter, and then outscored their guests 18-6 in the second quarter to build up a 29-10 halftime advantage.
The hosts extended their lead to as many as 25 points early in the third quarter, but the Warriors (1-2) showed they had no quit in them by outscoring the Zephyr-Miners 25-24 the rest of the second half to end on a bit of a positive note.
“It really starts to show you how much she means to our team. Not just from a scoring standpoint, but from everything she brings,” stated Flanagan about Wellnitz, who has missed two games since suffering a concussion in Black Hawk’s season opener and may have to miss a few more. “I was proud of our efforts tonight. We never quit and I felt like we started to do things a little better.”
Junior forward Sarah Redfearn poured in a game-high 13 points, had four rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots and added three assists for the Zephyr-Miners.
Sophomore guard Jenna Droessler chipped in with 10 points, six assists and two blocks; while senior guard Blaire Lutes added nine points and three assists. Senior Stephanie Roberts and junior Melissa Brant each had eight points and four boards with Brant also adding three steals.
“Outside our seniors, we’re a very young team. It’s nice to get those girls in game situations they’re not comfortable with yet. That’s been very good for us so far,” noted Russell.
Junior guard Michelle Flanagan led the Warriors with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Senior Abby Schiferl chipped in with six points and Tessa Cushman added five. Junior Mikayla Sigafus grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, and junior Olivia Holland had two steals for Black Hawk.
“I credit the kids for their effort. I thought some kids did some good things that they haven’t done yet. We have to turn this into a positive so when Jen does come back, these girls will be that much better for it,” Flanagan said.
Black Hawk returns to action with a Six Rivers East game at Juda on Friday, Dec. 7.
At Benton, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the Lady Zephyr-Miners outscored Galena 30-14 in the second half to run away with a 55-36 non-conference win in their season opener.
The hosts started off strong right out of the gates, pumping in 21 points to the Pirates’ seven points to build up an early 14-point lead.
The Pirates charged back in the second, using a 15-4 scoring run to close within three by the halftime intermission.
The Zephyrs-Miners regained momentum at the start of the second half thanks to a 12-4 third-quarter run, and they put the victory away by outscoring the Pirates, 18-10, in the fourth quarter.
Sarah Redfearn led three players in double figures with 14 points. Maggie Neis tacked on 13 points and Blaire Lutes added 11 for the Zephyr-Miners, who are off until Thursday, Dec. 13 when they travel to Highland for their Six Rivers West opener.
“It was nice to start strong out of the gates. It was a game where we got a comfortable win in the end, but we saw a lot of things to improve on. Ultimately, we had a little bit of adversity in the second quarter, which was good since we got the win,” said Coach Russell.
Black Hawk… 4 6 10 14 - 34
Bent/Shulls… 11 18 13 16 - 58
Scoring Leaders: Black Hawk- Michelle Flanagan 12, Abby Schiferl 6, Tessa Cushman 5, Tatum Jackson 4, Mikayla Sigafus 3, Marissa Monson 2, Kortney Hull 2. Bent/Shulls- Sarah Redfearn 13, Jenna Droessler 10, Blaire Lutes 9, Stephanie Roberts 8, Melissa Brant 8, Megan Malone 4, Maggie Neis 2, Payton Bastian 2, Myah Ihm 2.
Galena…….… 7 15 4 10 - 36
Bent/Shulls… 21 4 12 18 - 55
Scoring Leaders: Sarah Redfearn 14, Maggie Neis 13, Blaire Lutes 11, Stephanie Roberts 8, Melissa Brant 8, Jenna Droessler 2, Payton Bastian 2.