SOUTH WAYNE – Once Mother Nature relented with the snow and let Black Hawk get its much-anticipated Six Rivers East showdown with Barneveld started, all the Warriors had to do was shake off the cold.
After hitting just one of their 15 shot attempts in the first quarter, the #3-ranked Lady Warriors picked up the scoring pace the rest of the game to shoot down the #5-ranked Golden Eagles, 43-32, in a battle for first-place atop the Six Rivers East girls’ basketball standings at BHHS on Saturday, Feb. 11.
The Warriors (15-1 overall, 7-0 in SRE) move into sole possession of first-place in the Six Rivers East with their 32nd consecutive conference victory and their 30th straight home win, while the Eagles (16-2, 8-1) slip into second-place after having their 16-game winning streak halted with their first loss since falling 45-40 to #4-ranked Assumption in their season opener back on Nov. 25.
“The game has been looming out there for so long that it’s just a good feeling to get it in, and it’s even better to find a way to come out on the winning end of things,” said Black Hawk coach Mike Flanagan, eluding to the fact that the game was cancelled twice due to snowstorms last month.
Barneveld, which shot just 1-for-11 from the field in the first quarter, grabbed a brief 8-7 lead on back-to-back baskets by Hailey Cannoy and Heidi Chapman midway through the second quarter, but the Warriors took it right back with an 8-0 run of their own during a one-minute stretch later in the quarter and they never trailed again.
Senior Katie Powers put Black Hawk ahead 9-8 with a basket with 3:41 to play in the half, then sophomore point guard Jen Wellnitz converted an amazing pair of back-to-back old-fashioned three-point plays to extend the lead to 15-8 with 2:46 remaining until the intermission.
A 3-pointer by Cannoy closed the gap to 15-11 at the break.
“We have some kids who have played in some big games, and at those times when Barneveld came storming back, our players just stayed level and found ways to answer,” noted Flanagan.
Powers picked up the offensive pace in the third quarter, scoring nine of her 11 points in the quarter to help the Warriors outscore the Eagles 15-8 to open up a 30-19 advantage.
“Katie is proof that hard work pays off. She played the entire game, defending (freshman Rachel Slaney) who had a definite height advantage on her. Then, when she got things going on offense, she just really helped her team to get this victory,” Flanagan said.
Barneveld got big efforts from Slaney (seven points) and senior Shelby Meyer (four points) in the fourth quarter to get as close as seven, but Wellnitz had an answer for the Warriors each time as she converted a putback, two layups and a 3-pointer in the final quarter to keep her team in the lead.
“Jen can just do some things that other girls don’t have the athleticism to do, and I think she showed that on Saturday. She had some tough finishes, so key hustle plays, and she worked hard on the defensive end as well,” said Flanagan.
Wellnitz finished with a game-high 21 points along with eight steals, four assists and three rebounds to lead the Warriors’ charge.
Powers added 11 points, four rebounds and two assists; while senior Kate Quinn contributed six points and nine rebounds for Black Hawk.
Slaney finished with 12 points for the Eagles, who were held to a season-low 32 points by the Warriors. Chapman chipped in with six points and Cannoy netted five for the guests.
The two teams won’t have to wait long for the rematch since they lock horns once again this Friday in Barneveld.
Saturday’s contest was a Pink Game at Black Hawk with the Warriors’ faithful contributing to the breast cancer awareness fund-raising efforts prior to and during Saturday’s game.
Barneveld will also hold their Pink Night on Friday, Feb. 17, when they host Black Hawk in the rematch.
“Barneveld will certainly look to do some things differently, so we have to anticipate some of the adjustments they will make. Obviously, we’ll be going against one of the best coaches (Jim Myers) in the state, so they’ll be ready. In light of that, we’ll need to recognize early in the game the changes on which they are focusing and attempt to counter those changes. Add to that the tough atmosphere of their gym, and we know we’ll have our hands full on Friday,” admitted Flanagan.
At Albany, on Thursday, Feb. 9, a severe breakout of illness on the Albany team forced the host Comets to postpone their Six Rivers East game with Black Hawk. The make-up date has been set for Saturday, Feb. 18, with a varsity-game only being held starting at 7 p.m.
Barneveld…… 4 7 8 13 - 32
Black Hawk…. 4 11 15 13 - 43
Leading Scorers: Jen Wellnitz 21, Katie Powers 11, Kate Quinn 6, Chaesta Shager 3, Kayla Meier 2.