CUBA CITY – Thursday’s victory over Cuba City was a long time coming for the Darlington girls’ basketball team, and they were certainly happy to get that monkey off their backs.
The Lady Redbirds led by just a point at halftime, but came out strong in the second half and rolled to a 67-44 SWAL victory over the host Cubans on Jan. 19.
The win put to rest a 12-game losing streak to the Cubans dating back to Feb. 25, 2011.
“We were very excited to beat them. Out intensity and mental toughness was key,” said Darlington head coach Kelly Rose after topping Cuba City for the first time in her varsity coaching career. “I was actually in tears because I was so happy for the girls.”
Senior Callie Norton was in sixth grade the last time the Redbirds defeated the Cubans, and on Thursday night it was her career-high and game-high 23-point performance that helped carry the team to victory. She scored 15 of those points in the second half, which saw the ‘Birds outscore the Cubans, 45-23, to run away for the victory.
“It was exactly the way we needed to finish the game. Last time we played them (a 57-47 loss on Dec. 2), we didn’t quite finish the game. Tonight, we definitely made a statement, especially in the second half.”
Cuba City’s Jadyn Reese gave her team the momentum when she knocked down a basket right before the first-half buzzer sounded to pull the Cubans (8-4 overall, 5-2 SWAL) within a point at 22-21, but the Redbirds (9-5, 5-2) took it back by opening the second half with a 14-2 scoring run to build up a 36-23 advantage.
The hosts got the score back within seven thanks to a brief 6-0 run, however the ‘Birds charged off on a 17-4 outburst to increase their lead to 55-33 and then coasted in from there for their third straight win in SWAL play.
“We are playing to the caliber we need to be playing at this time of year. Those tough opponents we played around Christmas showed us what we needed to work on, and I think we have been executing in games what we’ve been working on in practice,” noted Rose.
Sophomore Kaylee Meyers poured in a season-high 15 points– 10 in the second half– and classmate Kathleen Mathias added 13 points– nine in the second half– to aid the Darlington victory.
Junior Kennedy Rankin chipped in with nine points for the ‘Birds.
Sophomore point guard Elizabeth Misky sank three 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 21 points to lead the Cubans, who fell back into a second-place tie with the Redbirds in the SWAL behind leader Mineral Point (7-0).
Darlington has a SWAL game at Boscobel (5-7, 3-4) on Friday, Jan. 27.
The Lady Redbirds will also make-up their SWAL game against Riverdale (10-2, 4-2) from Jan. 10 at Darlington on Tuesday, Jan. 31, as part of a boys/girls’ doubleheader. The boys’ game against the Chieftains will tip-off at 6 p.m., and the girls’ game will follow starting around 7:30 p.m.
Darlington………… 22 45 – 67
Cuba City…………. 21 23 – 44
Darlington – Callie Norton 23, Bethany McDonald 4, Kathleen Mathias 13, Taryn Rankin 2, Kennedy Rankin 9, Kaylee Meyers 15, Chelsie Golackson 1. Totals – 25 15-26 67.
Cuba City – Morgan Vosberg 4, Elizabeth Misky 21, Megan Hartl 4, Courtney Busch 5, Kiera Holzemer 6, Sophia Sander 2, Jadyn Reese 2. Totals – 17 4-7 44.
3-point goals– D 2 (K. Rankin 1, Meyers 1), CC 4 (Misky 3, Busch 1). Total fouls– D 15, CC 22. Fouled out– CC: Hartl.