by DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS Newspapers
One week prior to the start of the playoffs, Delano girls basketball coach Amy Gould proclaims her team is playing at its best, which is a good time to convert potential to ability to win big games.
Last week the Tigers took on the top two teams in the Wright County Conference and almost beat them both.
It took double overtime before league leading Waconia pulled out a 77-72 victory last Tuesday. Delano rebounded to defeat second place Annandale 49-44 on the road.
Gould said her players did the parent’s night crowd proud against Waconia. Sophomore Bria Barfnecht powered the offense with 25 points, while sophomore Alex Wittinger hit for 17.
“Bria Barfnecht attacked with a vengeance all game, making great decisions,” said Gould. “When she couldn’t get all the way to the rim, Bria would drop in the 10-foot jump shot and a couple of 3-pointers.”
Gould adds how Wittinger did an excellent job of neutralizing Waconia’s high scoring center by holding her to 11 points and blocking five shots.
Delano trailed by three in regulation with about 20 seconds remaining. Savanah Betttin hit the 3-point shot at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. After the first overtime ended 4-4, Waconia hit on more free throws in the second OT to secure the win.
At Annandale, Gould gave credit to the defensive pressure by Brooke Lemke and Barfnecht against one of the top scorers in the league.
“Being down by only three at halftime gave us strength since we know we have stamina,” adds the coach. “We had balanced scoring and a breakaway layup by Lemke after a steal sealed the lead.”
Wittinger led the scoring with 14 points, followed by Lemke with 10. Barfnecht and Kalley Koch each netted eight points.
“Playing our best team basketball against solid competition only grows our confidence for the few games left in the season,” said Gould. “A 15-win season is more than we expected, but we are not surprised.”
Delano plays at home against Glencoe-Silver Lake Friday, Feb. 22 for the last regular season game.
Delano and Waconia have battled for the conference lead all season. Tiger loses to Litchfield and Mound-Westonka has kept the race tight.
Beating Waconia for a second time last week has helped Delano’s cause, as was the 66-58 win over Annandale
Delano edged Waconia 58-57 after the teams were tied 20-20 at the half. Waconia went up 53-45 with four minutes left before the Tigers made six free throws and Adam Schleper made a 3-point basket to give Delano a 54-53 lead. Another 3-pointer by Schleper and a free throw by Zach Checkal secured the win.
Dalton Pulis led with 18 points and six rebounds. Toby Hanson had 15 points and three steals. Damon Longstreet netted 10 of his 12 points in the second half. Schleper scored 10 points and Checkal grabbed 12 rebounds to go with seven assists.
Checkal’s basket at the buzzer gave Delano a 34-34 tie with Annandale at the half. Toby Hanson scored 23 points to make the junior the sixth Tiger player to go over 1,000 points for his career.
Checkal had 10 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Pulis scored 18 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Longstreet added 12 points and Schleper had six assists.
Delano plays at Glencoe-Silver Lake Friday, Feb. 22 and is home against Hutchinson Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Contact Dave Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org