Sometimes coaching a basketball team can be a simple proposition, and that’s the situation West Carroll coach Paul Waitkoss found himself in Monday night.
He had a player, junior guard Madison Haynes, who was feeling it. The plan was to get her touches whenever possible, and it helped the Thunder to a 46-38 victory against Oregon in a Rock Falls Regional quarterfinal in Tabor Gymnasium.
Haynes dropped in a 19 first-half points on 7-for-15 shooting, and staked West Carroll to a 26-20 lead it never relinquished.
“When she’s hot, we just keep feeding her,” Waitkoss said. “She’s not really a natural scorer, but when you’re hot, get her the ball.”
Haynes cooled off a bit in the second half, but still finished with 24 points. She also had eight rebounds and three steals.
“I felt like once you make one shot, you’ve got to keep going,” Haynes said. “My team helped out a lot. They passed the ball, did a good job rebounding and played good defense. It definitely wasn’t just a me thing.”
West Carroll (17-14) began the second half with a 9-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Kylie Hill with 3:27 to go in the third quarter, to build a 35-22 lead, its largest of the game.
Oregon coach Wendy Lambrigtsen eventually went to a more athletic lineup, including juniors Jadyn Bothe and Ashlyn Kitzmiller, as well as sophomore Lily Gillingham, to change things up. They provided a spark, especially on defense, to get the Hawks back into it.
Oregon (16-16) got to within three points (41-38) after a short jumper from Bothe with 55 seconds to go. On West Carroll’s ensuing possession, some swarming Hawks defense produced a turnover and a fast-break opportunity. Breanna DeHaan was whistled for double dribble, however, negating an almost sure score.
The Thunder hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 33 seconds to polish off the win.
“Our speed was what was going to help us stop the bleeding a little bit,” Lambrigtsen said. “We didn’t quite have enough time and should have went to it sooner. My bad.”
Oregon has had to make due without its top inside player, sophomore Jenae Bothe, for the last 2 weeks due to the flu. That forced senior wing player Olivia Lambrigtsen away from her natural position to the paint.
Lambrigtsen led the Hawks with 14 points, but was just 5-for-17 from the field. The Hawks struggled as a team, shooting just 16-for-59 overall.
“We got a little impatient,” coach Lambrigtsen said. “We were breaking the press, which was good, but then it was one pass, one shot, and that doesn’t do you any good if you’re not making the shot. So you have to break them down in half-court offense, and we did not have the patience to do that tonight.”
DeHaan and Lauren Montavon each had six points for Oregon, and Kitzmiller added five. Montavon also had a team-high eight rebounds.
It’s already been a banner season for the West Carroll girls program. With each win, it adds to a school record that was 13 entering the season. The arrow is pointed straight up for the future, as there is not a senior on the roster.