LANCASTER - Despite an incredibly emotional week, the Lancaster varsity girls’ basketball team managed enough energy and perseverance to kick off the 2012-13 basketball season with a victory, which they dedicated to the memory of a lost teammate and dear friend.
The unexpected death of freshman teammate MaKayla Hore one week prior to last Thursday’s season opener, made for a very difficult week for the Flying Arrows, who undoubtedly played with a heavy heart.
To their credit though, and to the credit of their coach, the Lancaster ladies were able to pull out a convincing 45-26 victory over visiting River Valley to open play in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference.
“These girls were really good,” said Lancaster coach Brett Rollins. “We went with morning practices that week because of the activities after school. They had to come to practice with a heavy heart.”
“They were just great about it,” Rollins added. “They got here in the mornings and got their stuff done, then they did the things they had to do for MaKayla in the evenings.”
With all that this group has been through prior to the start of the season, not many knew exactly how they would respond once it was time to take the court.
“They are great girls, and I knew they would come out and play hard,” Rollins said. “I have a hard time with it, and I can’t imagine what a 15 or 16 year old is going through.”
“They came out and did just a great job. I think it was good for them, and it was good for the community, just to have a little bit of normalcy in what was a rough week for us.”
Thursday’s game began with a ceremonial jump ball that was awarded to Lancaster. The ball was then taken to the stands by members of the Lancaster basketball team, and presented to MaKayla’s parents, Tom and Anne, along with brother Justin and sister Jena, as the crowd stood for an emotional round of applause.
“The girls really wanted to win, because we gave a game ball to the Hores’, and they wanted to have a winning score on that ball,” said Rollins. “That was a very emotional night, and an opener that I’ll never forget.”
With the efforts they displayed on defense, and a quick start offensively, Lancaster held a 9-4 lead over the Blackhawks after one quarter of play, then took a 28-14 lead into the locker room at the half.
River Valley was never able to climb back into the game, as they were outscored 17-12 in the second half.
Sophomore guard Sydney Wagner led all scorers with 15 points to go along with two assists and two steals.
Senior forward Katrina Polkinghorn added 11 points and 10 boards, while sophomore Kasey Kelly added eight points and two assists to the win.
As a team, coach Rollins’ squad made 18-of-41 (44%) field goal attempts, including 5-of-11 (45%) from beyond the 3-point arc.
They made 4-of-10 (40%) free throw attempts, committed 21 turnovers, and had eight team steals.
This past Saturday night, Lancaster traveled to Wisconsin Dells, where they suffered a 37-30 loss to the host Chiefs.
The Arrows trailed by just one point in the fourth quarter, but then Wagner went down with a knee injury, leaving Lancaster without their top scorer for the rest of the game.
Wagner finished the night with a team-high 11 points, while Jena Vesperman added 10 and Polkinghorn five.
Polkinghorn also pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds, while Vesperman had 10. Kasey Kelly dished out a team-high two assists, while Shelly Morgan had two of her team’s three steals.
The Arrows made 10-of-46 (22%) field goal attempts on Saturday, including 3-of-8 (37.5%) from downtown.
They were 7-of-16 (44%) from the free throw line and committed 12 turnovers.
Wagner’s knee injury was initially thought to be an ACL tear, but has recently been diagnosed as a hyperextension. Her return to action could be as soon as this Thursday night when the Flying Arrows head to Prairie du Chien.
This Saturday, the Arrows will make up their game with Southwestern. The varsity reserves will begin at 12:30 with the varsity slated to begin at 2:00.
River Valley 26
(from Thursday, Nov. 29)
River Valley 4 10 10 2 - 26
Lancaster 9 19 13 4 - 45
River Valley - Duchame 6, Meadows 5, Alt 2, Schmidt 4, Genthe 6, Hoffman 3. Totals - 11 3-7 26.
Lancaster - Jena Vesperman 4, Kasey Kelly 8, Shelly Morgan 7, Katrina Polkinghorn 11, Sydney Wagner 15. Totals - 18 4-10 45.
3-point goals - RV: Hoffman 1, L: Wagner 3, Morgan 1, Kelly 1. Team fouls - RV: 13, L: 11. Fouled out - Morgan (L).
Wisconsin Dells 37,
(from Saturday, Dec. 1)
Lancaster 9 3 13 5 - 30
Wis. Dells 9 8 12 8 - 37
Lancaster - Sydney Wagner 11, Jena Vesperman 10, Kasey Kelly 3, Shelly Morgan 1, Katrina Polkinghorn 5. Totals - 10 7-16 30.
Wis. Dells - Nelson 2, Ward 1, Mase 11, Hickey 7, Phifer 7, Fernandez 6, Percival 2, Metcalf 1. Totals - 13 6-10 37.
3-point goals - L: Wagner 3, WD: Mase 2, Phifer 1, Fernandez 2. Team fouls - L: 12, WD: 16. Fouled out - Vesperman (L).