BY DAVID PEDERSEN
It will not guarantee victories in the section girls basketball playoffs, yet Delano’s dominance of two Wright County Conference leaders is a sure bet the Tigers are in the hunt.
Delano (18-7) earned the No. 3 seed in the Class 3A, Section 5 tournament that started Tuesday after this issue went to press. The winner of Delano and Rocori (10-16) advances to face either Big Lake or No. 2 seed Orono (17-7), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8 in Buffalo. The title game is 7 p.m. March 14 in Buffalo. Monticello (19-6) is the top section seed and Zimmerman (16-9) is No. 4.
Giving notice it plans to contend, Delano won the last five regular season games and eight of the last nine. Last week the Tigers broke out of a four-way tie for second in the conference by defeating one of the teams, Hutchinson, 58-39. Next came the 67-57 triumph over league champ Orono, which finished 13-1 in league play. Delano ended up second at 11-4.
“We were the better team,” said coach Amy Gould about Delano staying in the lead the entire Orono game when producing 26 assists. “Give credit to the girls for knowing when it is their time in playing a team offense. It has been a big area of growth this year.”
Alex Wittinger was effective on offense and defense, especially in the first half, finishing with 25 points and 12 rebounds. When Orono triple-teamed Wittinger in the second half other Tigers went to work.
Brian Barfnecht also had 25 points with nine rebounds. Brooke Lemke scored eight points with four assists and two steals. Kalley Koch added six points and three assists. Erin Norling provided four assists and Tori Hanson gave out three assists.
Also taking part as starters were seniors Coco Arens and Gabrielle Mielke, playing in their last home game on parent’s night.
Defense and a patient offense were key factors in holding Hutchinson to 39 points, notes Gould. She adds how Lemke did a great job leading the half-court offense where her assists could be on highlight reels.
Wittinger led with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Barfnecht had 19 points, six rebounds and five steals. Lemke added 11 points with four assists and two steals. Norling dished out five assists.
After the regular season, Wittinger leads the team when scoring 19 points and grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game. Barfnecht averages 16.4 points and nine rebounds. Lemke scored 12.9 points per game and leads with 4.4 assists.