On Tuesday, March 2, Orono Girls Basketball hosted the Delano Tigers in their second conference meeting of the year. Earlier in the season, the Spartans defeated Delano 57-43 in a tightly contested game.
Delano starts three freshmen this year. They are led by post player Taylor Tool, who has averaged 12.2 points per game. Tool utilizes a turnaround jump shot and a variety of post moves to provide a formidable inside presence for the Tigers.
The game was close throughout. At the 12-minute mark in the first half, Orono finally tied the game at 10 on a 3-point play by Haley Paulson. Until that point, the Spartans had been down, slowly chipping away at Delano’s early lead. Paulson continued to score in the first half, hitting two 3’s and contributing all 13 of her points. Although the Spartans had even scoring throughout the evening, the Tigers played scrappy defense and competed well to keep the game close. The Spartans’ largest lead of the first half was 8 points, but the Tigers had closed it to within 1 going into the halftime break with Orono up 29-28.
It would take about 5 minutes in the second half for the Spartans’ defense to really get going and finally break the game open. Orono would go on a 20-4 run during this time, building a double-digit lead. Eliza McKown hit consecutive 3-point baskets along with Kayla Kallenbach. Following Kallenbach’s 3, Orono had its biggest lead of the night at 52-34.
Timely scoring by Delano cut the lead to 10 again with 3 minutes to go but the Spartans held, going on to win 59-46.
The Spartans had four players in double figures, led by Haley Paulson with 13. Eliza McKown added 12, Kaila Youngs had 11 on the night and Kayla Kallenbach 10.
Scoring were Paulson (13), McKown (12), Youngs (11), Kallenbach (10), Johnson (7) and Knooihuizen/Knudson (3). Rebounds were had by Johnson (5) and assists by Paulson 93).
On Friday, March 5, the Orono Girls Basketball team welcomed the Monticello Magic for a non-conference game. The past two years Monticello has had a formidable frontcourt consisting of Anna Olson and Cat Terres. With their graduation, along with that of guard Lauren Zwack, the Magic finds itself in rebuilding mode. Although young, they played hard and with great energy.
The Lady Spartans started out fast. In the first 5 minutes, they built a 9-0 lead before the Magic finally got on the board. For a bit it looked like Orono might run away with the game. But Monticello went on a 13-5 run over the next 5 minutes, actually taking the lead at 16-14 with 8 minutes to go. Lily Manning led the Magic with a couple of 3-point baskets during that stretch. She led them with four makes on the night.
The Spartans finished off the half on a 16-4 run behind 10 points from Haley Paulson. Orono went into the halftime break with a 32-18 lead.
Orono continued to extend its lead over the first part of the second half. With 7 minutes remaining, the Spartans were up 51-25 and the Junior Varsity team entered the game. The final score was Orono 68, Monticello 38.
Orono was led in scoring by Eliza McKown with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Lauren Knudson and Haley Paulson each added 13. Sophia Gunderson led the team in rebounds with seven.
Scoring were McKown (16), L. Knudson/Paulson (13), Youngs (9), Knooihuizen (4), Gunderson/Kallenbach (3), Davis/Johnson (2) and Atkinson/Clifford/Kapsner (1). Rebounds were had by Gunderson (7) and Johnson (6), assists by Knudson (5), steals by Kallenbach/L. Knudson (2) and blocks by Youngs (3).
The Junior Varsity team won two more games this week, pushing their record to 10-3 on the season.
Against Delano the team jumped out to a 27-18 halftime lead and maintained that margin throughout the game. Estelle Atkinson led the team with 16 points on 12 attempts. Freya Clifford played very well with eight rebounds, including five offensive rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal. Maggie Lundell was strong under the basket, grabbing eight rebounds. Evie Kompelien added five steals.
Against Monticello, the Junior Varsity won the most exciting game of their season to date. The game was tight throughout. With about 12 seconds remaining, down by 1, coach Danielle Jorgenson called a timeout and set up a play. The team executed it to perfection with Mady Davis making a backdoor cut, catching a pass for a layup. Monticello had a chance for a final shot but came up short. Orono won 43-42. What an ending!
The C Squad (7-7 on the year) lost both games this week. They lost to Delano, 25-40. Gaby Knooihuizen led the team with 11 rebounds. Natalie Close had six rebounds and three blocks. Alex Groenke added three steals in the game.
Against Monticello, the team just came up short, losing 28-33. The team hit five 3-pointers during the game, led by Naveah Alwan and Jada Abed with two each. Tori Maas led the team with eight rebounds. Jada Abed, Maggie Lundell and Gabby Knooihuizen added five rebounds a piece. Natalie Close added four more blocks this game.