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Lady Birds swat away Cats in opener
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    HAZEL GREEN - The Darlington girls’ basketball team didn’t have the luxury of a non-conference game or two prior to starting their conference schedule, but that didn’t deter the Lady Redbirds from going out strong against Southwestern in their opener.
    Senior guard Amy Jorgenson led three players in double-figures with 21 points and the Redbirds went 23-for-34 at the foul line in the game to sink the host Wildcats, 67-51, in their SWAL opener at SHS on Friday, Dec. 2.
    “Starting the season on the road of conference opponent is a challenge. Throw in the fact that they have one of the top players in the area makes it a little more nerve racking. That said, I think the girls were excited to finally play their first game,” said Darlington head coach Michael Chambers.
    The Redbirds (1-0 overall) jumped out to a 19-12 lead after one quarter of play, but the Lady Wildcats (1-2) answered back with a 21-10 run in the second quarter to grab a 33-29 halftime advantage.
    The ‘Birds regrouped during the intermission and came out fired up in the third quarter, outscoring the hosts 19-7 in the period to regain the lead at 48-40; and then pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to a 19-11 scoring advantage.
    “The second half was much like the first quarter. We settled down a bit and started laying our game, moving the ball offensively for good shots and playing good team defense. We also played smarter with only seven second half fouls (compared to 15 in the first half).  This allowed us to finish strong and pull away,” Chambers noted.
    Jorgenson added six rebounds, six steals and four assists to go along with her 21-point effort.
    Junior guard Cassidy Chambers dropped in four 3-pointers to finish the night with 19 points, six steals and three assists, while junior center Claire Scott added a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Redbirds.
    Tatum Evenstad contributed four rebounds and three assists in the win.
    “Amy, Cassidy and Claire really came up big for us in several areas. AnnaLisa Ruesga and Tatum contributed big plays during our second half run, and many others contributed to the victory,” added Chambers. “When Kaitlyn Wall went 2-for-2 on her free throws late in the game, she became the 10th player to score for us.”
    Southwestern senior Katelynn Hoppman tallied a game-high 28 points for the Wildcats, including an 11-for-18 performance at the foul line, and she added 15 rebounds for a double-double in the loss. The Wildcats finished 15-for-26 at the line for the game.
    “It was nice to start out with a victory but our focus needs to be on improvement,” Chambers stated.
    Darlington has another huge SWAL game this week when they host Cuba City on Thursday, Dec. 8. The Lady ‘Birds early-season onslaught continues on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Fennimore.

Darlington…..… 19  10  19  19 - 67
Southwestern… 12  21    7  11 - 51
Leading Scorers: Amy Jorgenson 21, Cassidy Chambers 19, Claire Scott 18, Tatum Evenstad 2, Kaitlyn Wall 2, Cassidy Cox 1, AnnaLisa Ruesga 1, Alexa Hardyman 1, Haily McGowan 1.