RANDOLPH – Randolph was able to do what no other team had been able to do this season. The Rockets found a way to beat top-ranked Black Hawk.
Randolph’s stifling 2-3 zone defense held the Warriors’ offense in check, while the shooting of senior guard Myriel Werner was dead-on all game as her 27-point performance propelled the Rockets to a 56-43 non-conference victory over the visiting Warriors at RHS on Saturday, Jan. 28.
“Randolph was the better team Saturday, plain and simple. They consistently made shots, while we struggled to make any. Whether we were getting the ball inside or taking open looks from the perimeter, we just could not get things going offensively. As a result, we got away from our identity, and the game sped up a lot. As evidenced by the score, we gave up way too many points for us to have a chance to win” noted Black Hawk head coach Mike Flanagan.
Less than two days after surviving a physical overtime battle with Juda to remain unbeaten atop the Six Rivers East standings, the Lady Warriors returned to the court for another tough game, however this time their luck would run out as the Rockets’ ended Black Hawk’s 12-game winning streak this season and 54-game regular season streak dating back to December of 2010.
“We seemed a step slow on every 50/50 play. Every loose ball, every rebound, every foul—we were just a step slow, and some of that might be attributed to fatigue from a tough Juda game last Thursday. However, we can’t control those scenarios, and we need to be able to find a way to push through physical exhaustion. In the tournament, weeks like that are bound to occur.” Flanagan said.
The Warriors (12-1 overall) led 13-11 after one quarter of play, but fell behind in the second quarter after the Rockets (10-3) doubled them up, 14-7, behind Werner’s 10-point outburst to go ahead 25-20 at the intermission.
Black Hawk cut the deficit to one in the third quarter and pulled back within three at 37-34 with five minutes to play in the game, but the Rockets sank 11-of-17 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Werner poured in 27 points against a Warrior defense that was giving up just 32 points per game this season after shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line on the day.
Sophomore Jen Wellnitz finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals to lead the Warriors’ effort. Senior Kate Quinn provided nine points and 12 rebounds, while Katie Powers, Kayla Meier and Michelle Flanagan each pulled down eight boards.
At Juda, on Thursday, Jan. 26, Black Hawk got into a knock-down-drag-out brawl with the upset-minded Panthers, but thanks to some clutch free throw shooting in overtime the Lady Warriors came out on top 39-34 to remain unbeaten in Six Rivers East play.
The Warriors (5-0 in SRE) put their resiliency on display throughout the night, shaking off some early offensive woes and some ice-cold foul shooting in the fourth quarter to edge the Panthers (10-4, 3-2) in overtime.
“We’re still alive so we’re happy about that,” said Coach Mike Flanagan with a sigh of relief. “In terms of staying positive and calm, persevering and remaining true to what we wanted to do, I give the girls a lot of credit for battling through the tough spots. That’s how you grow as a team.”
Black Hawk managed just eight points in the first half and trailed 17-11 late in the third quarter before they started to heat up.
Senior forward Kayla Meier kicked off an 11-0 run by the Warriors with back-to-back baskets late in the third quarter and she added an old-fashioned 3-point play to start the fourth to give the guests a 22-17 lead.
Black Hawk extended that lead to 31-23 with under two minutes to play as Meier again nailed back-to-back shots to make the lead eight, but the Warriors were unable to put the game away at the foul line down the stretch after converting just 2 of their 9 free throw attempts in the final 1:38.
Juda’s Katlyn Devoe hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining in regulation to trim the gap to five at 33-28, then the senior guard buried another clutch trey with just six seconds to go to knot the score at 33 all and force overtime.
Both teams slowed down the game in the extra sessions as just one shot was attempted in the first three minutes of OT.
Meier, who had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, put the Warriors ahead to stay by making one of two free throws with 51 seconds remaining in OT, and guard Jen Wellnitz stole the ball right back and sprinted in for a layup to extend the lead to 36-33.
Senior Chaesta Shager added two free throws with 10 seconds to play and sophomore Michelle Flanagan sank another with :02.2 remaining to seal the hard-fought victory for the Warriors, who shot 5-of-19 at the foul line during regulation (including just 4-of-15 in the fourth quarter) but went 4-for-6 at the stripe in OT.
“It’s frustrating for me and frustrating for our fans, but its even more frustrating for the girls. They’re trying to make (their free throws). We shoot them all the time and practice and we work on them hard. They just weren’t falling,” said Flanagan.
Meier scored 12 of her game-high 13 points in the second half to rally Black Hawk for the victory and she added eight rebounds and three steals on the night.
Wellnitz pulled down 14 rebounds, made eight steals and five assists to go along with six points; while Shager added eight points and nine rebounds, and Katie Powers chipped in with seven points.
Devoe and Amber Ramos led Juda with nine points apiece, and C.J. Dunwiddie tallied eight for the Panthers.
Next up, Black Hawk travels to Monticello for a SRE game on Friday, Feb. 3, and the Lady Warriors return home to face Parkview in a non-conference contest on Monday, Feb. 6.
Black Hawk… 5 3 11 14 6 - 39
Juda..……….. 5 7 5 16 1 - 34
Leading Scorers: Kayla Meier 13, Chaesta Shager 8, Katie Powers 7, Jen Wellnitz 6, Kate Quinn 4, Michelle Flanagan 1.
Black Hawk… 13 7 9 14 - 43
Randolph..…. 11 14 10 21 - 56
Leading Scorers: Jen Wellnitz 18, Kate Quinn 9, Kayla Meier 5, Katie Powers 3, Chaesta Shager 3, Michelle Flanagan 3, Abby Schiferl 2.