BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Delano scored only one fewer point than the girls basketball team netted in the win over Orono a week before a rematch in the Class 3, Section 5 playoffs Saturday. However, the No. 2 seed Spartans scored 24 more points on way to a 67-57 victory.
It was rare for Delano to struggle on defense this season, especially in stretch of winning eight of the last nine games. The Tigers finished at 16-6.
“Everything they shot went down,” notes coach Amy Gould. “They shot 70 percent from 2-point range, 57 percent from three and 85 percent from the free throw line. One player made six of her seven shots from the field and all seven from the line. Another player shots 7 for 10. What do you do about that?”
Orono’s defense doubled teamed Tiger leading scorer junior Alex Wittinger. The other scoring leader, junior Bria Barfnecht, got into foul trouble and finished with 10 points after netting 27 in the first playoff game.
Wittinger still finished with 21 points, followed by ninth-grader Erin Norling 13, junior Kalley Koch 11 and junior Brooke Lemke had seven.
“Erin Norling exceeded expectations as a freshman, adds Gould. “Kalley Koch hit three 3-point shots in the second half to bring her team back into the game after being down 21 points.”
Delano had a great start and was leading 30-25 when the tide turned late in the half and Orono stormed to a 40-34 lead.
“At the end of the half we had a series when we fell into some bad habbits of poor shot selection,” said Gould. “We out-rebounded Orono 29-28. Alex led with 14 and Tori Hanson had seven.”
Gould said Orono played a totally different style in the section game compared to the last regular season game. She adds, “Our girls played hard and classy basketball.”
The Tigers rolled to a 77-43 victory over Rocori in the first playoff game when most of the starters did not play in the second half. Scoring leaders were Barfnecht 27, Wittinger 12, Koch 12, Lemke 10 and Norling seven.
All five starters return for what was still a young team. Gould hopes her players will keep improving like they did this year. The starters all plan to play on summer AAU teams.
“I want to give a big thank you to all the Delano fans that supported us this season,” adds Gould. “It is great to see people excited about our program and who realize this is a fun group of basketball players to watch.”