BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Defense was the theme or motto of the week for both the Delano boys and girls basketball teams last week in winning four of the five games between the two.
It is rare for the Tiger girls to allow just 25 points against them. It is more unusual to have the points spread between two games. Delano defeated Sauk Rapids-Rice 47-15 and St. Cloud Apollo 80-10. Coach Amy Gould said her veteran team went against programs that are young and rebuilding with new coaches.
In between the Tigers challenged a more seasoned squad at Monticello, losing for the first time this season 71-59. The team has five proven senior starters who played at state the past two seasons.
Against Sauk Rapids-Rice, junior Brooke Lemke led the charge with 20 points, while junior Bria Barfnecht scored 13 and junior Alex Wittinger had 12.
“We came out strong against a very young team,” notes Gould. “We are finding Brooke in transition and she is doing a great job attacking the rim, splitting the defense. She also is our best 3-point shooter.”
Delano came out strong against Monticello, who rose up to hit on five straight 3-point baskets to take over the momentum. Gould said Wittinger played one of her best games by scoring 17 points, but got into foul trouble. Lemke scored 16 points and Barfnecht 13.
The coach adds how ninth-grader Tori Hanson stepped in to play hardnosed defense, made “sweet” passes and showed some mental toughness.
Everybody played and scored against Apollo. Pacing the offense was Barfnecht with 24 points, while Wittinger had 17 and both Hanson and Makenna Giese netted nine points.
The Tigers are home against Rockford Thursday, Dec. 12 and plays at Watertown-Mayer Thursday, Dec. 19.
Boys remain unbeaten
The Tiger boys also were stingy on defense in two wins against strong programs, defeating New Prague 58-50 and Monticello 67-54, improving to 4-0.
Delano won 67-54 over Monticello when leading 38-22 at the half. The lead was pushed to 50-29 before Monticello made a comeback, cutting the lead to 12. Sean Campbell answered with two 3-point baskets to help Delano regain control.
Campbell finished with 18 points. Damon Longstreet led with 19 points and seven rebounds. Toby Hanson added nine points with seven assists and five rebounds. Seth Norling did well at point guard with 10 points, five assists and four steals. Matt Kreklow added nine points in the second half. Seth MacLeod grabbed eight rebounds off the bench.
The game was much closer when Delano defeated New Prague 58-50. After Delano built a narrow 27-25 first half lead, the game went back and forth in the second half.
“We were up 52-50 with about a minute to play and finished the game going 6 for 6 from the free throw line,” said coach Terry Techam about how Longstreet, MacLeod and Hanson all were 2 for 2 at the line down the stretch. “We did a decent job of holding their big guys (6-10 and 6-9) to 14 and 12 points.”
Hanson led with 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Longstreet added 19 points. Techam said MacLeod did a great job off the bench by scoring eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds. He hit on a big 17-foot shot late in the game.
Delano is home to Sauk Rapids-Rice Friday, Dec. 13 and goes to face Hutchinson Tuesday, Dec. 17.