BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Delano went up against three of the top girls basketball teams in the Wright County Conference without its leading scorer and learned some valuable lessons that could help the cause down the road and into the playoffs.
Despite playing without junior center Alex Wittinger, who was leading the Tigers in scoring and had just cleared the 1,000-point milestone for her career, Delano put on an offensive show in losing to Waconia 96-93.
Delano rebounded to win 62-45 over Mound-Westonka, a team that had just beat Waconia. Coach Amy Gould said the Waconia game helped prepare her players to handle a similar style without Wittinger, who was out sick for all three games last week. The third game involved a 73-60 loss to league-leading Orono.
“I was so very proud of our team for playing so well together,” said Gould about the adversity. “Playing without Wittinger was a bit of a shocker for our players, but we learned we are deeper in talent as others stepped up.”
Junior Bria Barfnecht was one of the players who stepped up against Waconia, scoring 32 points. Junior Brooke Lemke also sparked the offense with 26 points. Ninth-graders Tori Hanson and Erin Norling both scored 10 points. Junior Gretta Halonen provided seven rebounds.
“What hurt us against Waconia was not having Alex as a defensive presence in the paint,” said Gould about having a 6-1 Wittinger under the basket for rebounding and shot blocking. “Bria was able to break through Waconia’s trapping defense on the perimeter and drive to the basket for layups. When Bria sets herself, she is an impact player.”
What also hurt the Tigers was the 41 points scored by Waconia’s Anna Schmitt.
Against Mound-Westonka, Gould said Norling had the best game of her career when attacking the rim and netting 16 points, shooting 6 for 10 from the field. Barfnecht scored 16 points and Lemke added 14.
Koch stepped up to have one of her best games against Orono, making five 3-point baskets in the first half and finished with 15 points. Junior Makenna Giese scored the first six points of the game, finishing with nine. Barfnecht led with 16 points while Norling added 11.
“What hurt us against Orono was shooting 40 percent from the free throw line,” adds Gould about players going 9 of 22. “We also left many points at the rim. The best part of the week was our confidence was able to grow.”
Delano is home to New London-Spicer Thursday, Jan. 23 in a game that will involve a fundraiser to battle against cancer. Pink will be the color of the day when other fun events will take place. The Tigers play at Hutchinson Tuesday, Jan. 28.