DODGEVILLE — Last Monday night during halftime of their non-conference game at Cassville, Lancaster girls basketball coach Rob Wagner posed an important question to his team, who on all accounts had struggled in the first half of that contest.
The response he got from his squad in the second half that night was exactly what he was hoping for, and the Flying Arrows have not let up since.
“We had a pretty good powwow at halftime against Cassville, and it was a little bit of a reality check as to how do we want this year to finish out,” Wagner explained. “We kind of struggled in the first half against Cassville but after we came out at halftime, that’s when they just picked it up and haven’t slowed down since.”
Lancaster went on to outscore the Comets, 41-12, in the second half that night, and since then has picked up wins over Dodgeville, Prairie du Chien and most recently River Ridge.
The difference during Lancaster’s winning streak has been their play on the defensive end of the floor, where according to coach Wagner, they are doing a much better job with help defense and in communicating with each other.
“I think defense is kind of what’s turned it around for us, and we’re just playing with a lot more heart and hustle,” said Wagner. “They’ve bought in, and they’re playing hard. It makes everything a lot more enjoyable, I can tell you that much.”
The defensive effort of the Flying Arrows certainly paid off last Thursday night when they came home with a 45-41 win over host Dodgeville.
With sophomores Devin Wagner and Lydia Murphy taking turns face guarding Dodgeville junior Hannah Jones, the rest of Lancaster’s team was instructed to help on Jones with a goal to keep her under 15 points.
Jones finished the night with 16 points, which wasn’t enough to put her team over the Flying Arrows, as Lancaster came home with the four-point win.
Leading Lancaster with 13 points and six rebounds was senior Kristina Larson, while Wagner and Carly Chadd each added nine points in the win. Wagner also chipped in five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Chadd had three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
As a team, Lancaster made 17-of-41 (41.5%) shot attempts, including 4-of-8 (50%) from 3-point range. They were 7-of-22 (32%) from the free throw line, committed 19 turnovers and came away with 10 steals.
With another impressive defensive effort, the Flying Arrows then handed host Prairie du Chien a 52-11 loss last Friday night in Southwest Wisconsin Conference action.
Coach Wagner’s squad held a halftime lead of 38-6, then outscored the Blackhawks, 14-5, in the second half.
In that contest, Lydia Murphy led the charge with 15 points, six rebounds and five steals, while Larson chipped in 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Dishing out five assists and coming away with five steals was Wagner, who also scored eight points, while Lauren Thole had seven points and Carly Chadd six.
Against the Blackhawks, Lancaster made 20-of-39 (51%) field goal attempts, including 1-of-3 (33%) from downtown. They were 11-of-19 (58%) from the charity stripe and committed nine turnovers to their opponent’s 26.
In non-conference action this past Monday evening, the Flying Arrows sent visiting River Ridge home with a 54-18 loss after outscoring the Timberwolves, 20-8, in the first half and, 34-10, in the second.
Wagner led the charge with 14 points, followed by 10 from Thole and eight each from Murphy and Larson.
Now 3-4 in SWC play and 9-6 overall, the Flying Arrows will next host Dodgeville (3-4, 4-10) this Friday night for sole possession of third place. Next Monday night, the Lancaster ladies will be at Iowa-Grant (2-7, 6-10) for a non-conference contest.
Prairie du Chien 58, Lancaster 44
(from Friday, Jan. 27)
Lancaster 22 22 - 44
Prairie du Chien 19 39 - 58
Lancaster - Tanner Reuter 7, Jordan Reuter 4, Drew Reuter 5, Evan Straka 5, Larry Moore III 17, Jalen Schmitz 6. Totals - 17-39, 6-10 44
Prairie du Chien - Gavin Gillitzer 2, Chas Sagedahl 15, Evan Teynor 2, Cory Check 5, Nate Banasik 5, Josh Lenzendorf 13, Jonathan Dyer 5, Wesley Schwager 11. Totals - 18-42, 15-23 58.
3-point goals - L: (4-9) T. Reuter 1, D. Reuter 1, Schmitz 2; PdC: (7-22) Sagedahl 2, Check 1, Lenzendorf 3, Dyer 1. Team fouls - L 16, PdC 14. Fouled out - None.