Lady Cats upset the Warriors

Sophomore knocks down buzzer-beater three pointer to give Millard West a Top 10 win


Photo by Mary Nilius of Westside Wired

Sophomore Lucy Schonlau being guarded by senior Laney Schipper in the Westside vs Millard West game. Schipper and Schonlau combined for 31 points in this game. “We all just played the best we could and never gave up till the end,” sophomore Effie Golliday. “I just hope we can take that momentum to the rest of our season.”

Jonathan Willis, Striv Executive Producer

On Friday, February 5, the Wildcat varsity girls basketball team took on the Westside Warriors in the first game students could visit an opposing team’s court. 

The 3-13 Wildcats sought an upset against the 13-4 Warriors, one of the best teams in Class A and a heavy favorite to come out of this game with a win. It has been a tough year with the lady cats, mainly for the reason that a lot of these players are playing on varsity for the first time. Each game though, you can see that this team is improving, even if their record doesn’t necessarily show that. 

Westside started hot in the first quarter: junior Madilyn Siebler, who averages 6.2 points per game, drained an early three to kickstart the offense. Sophomore Lucy Schonlau got a strong bucket in the paint, junior Kaitlyn Hanna knocked down another three, and Siebler had a nice reverse layup to get them up by 10 early. Wildcat Senior Laney Schipper answered back with a few free throws because of the foul heavy Warrior team to keep it somewhat close.The Wildcats started to get going down in the first quarter behind a nice feed from Schipper inside the paint to freshman Taylor Hansen for their first field goal of the game. Junior Livi Kraft answered by drilling a three to extend the Warrior lead back up to nine. With less than two minutes to go in the quarter, the Wildcats fought back to close the gap. Schipper knocked down a tough corner three and an underhand layup, and Hansen banked in a last second shot to make it a two point game. Westside led 14-12 at the end of the first quarter. 

“We decided in that timeout when we were down ten that the score means nothing,” sophomore Effie Golliday said. “We didn’t let the score or their record scare us into letting up.” 

After trading multiple defensive stops to start off the second quarter,  Siebler ended the  two and a half minute scoring drought with an and-one shot inside the paint. Sophomore Kenna Scholting for Millard West then caused a turnover in the front court, resulting in an easy layup for junior Emmy Holl. After just checking into the game, junior Ava Martin made a tough and-one shot to tie the game at 17 with about four minutes left to go in the half. Westside then went on a 5-0 run behind a big three pointer from senior Ruby Secora and another inside shot from Schonlau. The Wildcats once again had an answer with another and-one shot, this time from junior Gwen Stocker. Sophomore Libby Hoffman knocked down a signature three to once again tie the game. That three would be the last bucket of the quarter, with both teams getting key defensive stops, and the game was tied 22-22 at the break. Millard West did a great job being able to come back after every Westside run to have the game where it was at this point.  

“We really made no changes at halftime,” head coach Marc Kruger said. “We got things straightened out defensively so we needed to remind them to keep doing those things and that the game was going to come down to things like rebounds and free throws.”

Schipper started the offense after the break with a falling away layup to give Millard West the lead early in the third quarter. The Warriors answered back from a nice pass from Siebler inside to Hanna for an easy bucket. Both teams started to get cold from the field, trading off defensive possessions and missing shots. With a little less than five minutes left in the quarter, Schipper really started to get going with a tough fadeaway shot, but Westside was always able to combat what the Wildcats were throwing at them, with Siebler and Secora getting big time buckets. Golliday got going for the Wildcats later in the quarter, with a big and one shot to get the momentum back with the Wildcats. Hoffman was able to get four straight points for the Cats late in the quarter, while Kraft knocked down a buzzer beater three to keep the game tied 33-33 as they headed into the fourth quarter. The game was low scoring and back and forth which had fans of both teams on their toes throughout the whole game. 

The fourth quarter started with a huge Millard West run, scoring seven straight points coming from another big time bucket from Schipper down the lane, a three pointer from Schipper, and another bucket in the paint from Stocker. Hanna knocked down a floater from just past the free throw line to get the Warriors going in the fourth. However, the Warriors missed multiple wide open fast-break opportunities, allowing the Wildcats to retain the lead. Schipper made yet another jumper to put the Wildcats up by seven with just a bit over three minutes left in the game. 

The tenth ranked team in Class A was not dead yet. 

Schonlau was able to get a layup inside to start the run for the Warriors. Siebler then got a turnover and took it all the way to the bucket on the other end to cut the lead to three. Schipper was able to make another big time shot falling away to slow down Westside. Schonlau, who finished with 10 rebounds, once again got a strong rebound and an and one shot to bring the Warriors back within striking distance. Both teams went on a bit of a dry spell shooting the ball, but Westside was able to tie it from the free throw line eventually 44-44. The Warriors had multiple chances in the fourth though to take the lead from the charity stripe, but went a total of 2-6 from the line. Millard West got the ball back with 25 seconds left on the clock, and a chance to win it. 

They took their time, getting fouled and using timeouts until there was then six seconds left in the game. Sophomore Grace Kelley inbounded the ball to Golliday and as time expired, Golliday threw up a heave from behind the three point line and banked it in as the clock hit zero. The play originally had Golliday driving more in the paint, but because of the chant from the Westside crowd, she had to throw it up earlier than intended. It didn’t matter though, as the shot had gone in, and Millard West ended up pulling off the huge upset 47-44. 

 “I thought the shot was off but it was one of the best feelings ever when it went in and my team ran out,” Golliday said. “It’s no secret we have had a rough season and that win brought a lot of pressure off of us. We had been playing really uptight and scared but when we started competing with them we started having a lot of fun and doing what we do best.”

The Wildcats improved to 4-13 on the year and Westside dropped to 13-5. Schipper had a career night with 21 points and Hoffman also added seven more points for West. For Westside, Siebler led the team in scoring with 15 points and Schonlau pitched in 10 more. 

“It was the best game I’ve ever seen Schipper play,” Kruger said. “She was sort of ‘feeling it.’ She finished in the paint and hit some jump shots, and just the fact that she kept scoring kept us in it and eventually led us to building a little lead. It’s what you want to see from seniors in that situation.”

Even though this has been a tough year for the Lady Cats, this win was huge for the team. It was a complete team effort, playing great on defense and getting buckets when it mattered. Westside went on their runs and got up big, but Millard West never gave up and stuck together through it all. 

The Wildcats will travel to Millard North on February 12 and then have a home game the day after against Benson. You can watch the game against the Mustangs on Aaron Harding’s YouTube Channel and the Benson game on Millard West Striv TV.