SOUTH WAYNE – Black Hawk guards Katie Powers and Jen Wellnitz combined for 14 points in the first half to help the host Warriors keep pace with Monticello, and then the dynamic duo combined for another 14 points in the second half to help the #2-ranked Warriors pull away from the Ponies for a 49-31 victory in their Six Rivers Conference Eastern Division opener at BHHS on Friday, Dec. 16.
“Things didn’t come easily early on, but the girls did a good job of persevering, staying true to the game plan and getting stronger as the game progressed,” Black Hawk head coach Mike Flanagan said. “Katie Powers had a phenomenal night, and Jen Wellnitz has been playing extremely well for us this season.”
Powers and Wellnitz each dropped in a basket to lead the Warriors (5-0 overall, 1-0 in SRE) out to a quick 4-0 lead, but the Ponies (4-3, 1-1) answered back with nine unanswered points the rest of the first quarter to take a 9-4 lead.
The Warrior duo added baskets at the start the second quarter to cut the deficit to 9-8, and Wellnitz later hit back-to-back shots– the second on a coast-to-coast layup off a steal with 2:16 remaining in the half– to put the hosts ahead to stay at 16-15.
Black Hawk took a slim 18-17 lead into the locker room at the half.
“We knew coming in that this game would be a battle. Monticello has a nice squad that is well-coached, and they’ve given us trouble the past few years,” explained Flanagan.
Powers added a 3-point basket and a 2-point basket early in the third quarter to put the Warriors ahead 28-18, but the Ponies weren’t done with Marissa Berg following with back-to-back treys to pull back within a basket at 28-26.
A 3-pointer by Black Hawk’s Chaesta Shager pushed the lead back to 31-26 at the end of the third quarter, and teammates Kate Quinn and Kelly Neuenschwander added quick baskets to start the fourth quarter to extend the advantage to 35-26.
Monticello had a chance to get back into the game at the foul line, but six straight missed free throws allowed the Warriors to build back up to a double-digit lead.
Then, the Warriors took advantage of plenty of their own opportunities at the foul line by converting 7-of-11 free throws in the final four minutes, eight seconds to pull away for the win.
“We haven’t shot free throws well this season yet, so it was nice to see us making them when it mattered most,” Flanagan admitted. “It sounds cliché, but free throws either win or lose games. Our players have to be confident when they go to the line.”
Wellnitz finished with a double-double after scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with eight assists and four steals, while Powers added 14 points for the Warriors.
Kate Quinn scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter to go along with five boards, while Shager tallied five points, four rebounds and two assists and Kayla Meier chipped in with five points and five rebounds despite playing with an injured hand.
“We were glad to have Kayla Meier playing, as she was questionable after the Potosi game. She played well considering the amount of tape on her hand,” said Flanagan.
Berg led the Ponies with eight points, while Lane Havens and Alyssah Kubly added six points apiece for the guests.
“As we have in the past few games, we got better defensively in the second half. We determined that we wanted to stop a couple of their key kids, and the girls did a good job of executing a game plan on the defensive end,” stated Flanagan. “In particular, Kate (Quinn) did an exemplary job defending Berg, who is one of the best players in our league right now. Outside of a couple threes in the third quarter, Kate kept her in check, which is a tough task.”
At South Wayne, on Monday, Dec. 19, Jen Wellnitz pumped in 10 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with 37 seconds to play as the Lady Warriors remained unbeaten on the season after rallying from a 16-point halftime deficit to nip Clinton, 48-47, in non-conference action.
The Cougars (3-2) appeared in complete control of the game in the first half when they sprinted out to a 31-15 lead on the Warriors, but the hosts were far from out of it.
Coach Flanagan’s squad sliced the deficit to 10 by the end of the third quarter, then used a 17-6 fourth quarter run to rally past the Division 3 Cougars for the fifth straight season.
The win extended the Warriors regular season winning streak to 47 games. They have also won 29 consecutive Six Rivers East games.
Wellnitz filled out the stat sheet with 23 points and 10 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double, and she added team highs in assists and steals with seven apiece.
Kate Quinn added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Kayla Meier chipped in with six points and four boards for the Warriors.
Next up, Black Hawk hosts Albany in a SRE game on Thursday, Dec. 22.
Monticello….. 9 8 9 5 - 31
Black Hawk… 4 14 13 18 - 49
Leading Scorers: Katie Powers 14, Jen Wellnitz 14, Kate Quinn 6, Kayla Meier 5, Chaesta Shager 5, Kelly Neuenschwander 4, Abby Schiferl 1.
Clinton……… 16 15 10 6 - 47
Black Hawk… 8 7 16 17 - 48
Leading Scorers: Jen Wellnitz 23, Kate Quinn 13, Kayla Meier 6, Chaesta Shager 4, Katie Powers 2.