Wildcats struggle against Silver Hawks

Millard West loses in opening round of Districts to Lincoln Southwest


Photo taken from Bellevue East Game

The team played one of the best teams in the state, Lincoln Southwest, and they provided lots of problems for the Wildcats. When the Wildcats were able to play in the half court they were successful but the Silver Hawks pressure got to Millard West. “We were able to keep the tempo slow and play five on five in the half court where we have a chance,” Kruger said “But when they stepped up the pressure that led to too many easy scoring opportunities.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

In the opening round of the District tournament the Millard West Girls Varsity Basketball team took on the Lincoln Southwest Silver Hawks. The Wildcats were the underdogs coming into this game as they had a 5-16 record during the regular season, the Silver Hawks were having a much better season and came into this game with a 17-2 record.

The game started off strong for the Silver Hawks; they won the tip-off and soon after hit a three coming off a nice pass. After a couple times up and down the court, with neither team scoring, the Silver Hawks were able to intercept a Wildcat pass and run down the court for a layup, extending their lead to 5-0. Following this bucket, the Wildcats were able to get down the court quickly and find senior Reese Peterson for a layup, making the score 5-2. The Silver Hawks then traveled and following an inbound pass, junior Emmy Holl drove down the lane for another layup, closing the Lincoln Southwest lead to 5-4. 

Following a pair of misses by each team, sophomore Libby Hoffman was able to score off an inbounds pass, giving the Wildcats their first lead of the game by a score of 6-5. Throughout the rest of the first quarter, the Silver Hawks went on a strong run while the Wildcat offense struggled and was only able to add one free throw to their score. At the end of the first quarter, Southwest was ahead 15-6.

“Lincoln Southwest is one of the best teams in the state and they present a lot of problems for any team,” head coach Marc Kruger said. “We were down 9 points, but we felt like the tempo was what we needed and we were ‘hanging in there.”’

The second quarter began with the Wildcats trailing by a large margin and needing to play better if they wanted to close the gap. A minute into the quarter, Hoffman was able to hit a three, narrowing the lead to 15-9. Millard West was able to close the gap again when sophomore Grace Kelly hit a layup, making the score 15-11. The Silver Hawks answered by going on a dominant 12-point run which highlighted nice passing and layups, and very quickly the score became 25-11. 

The Wildcats finally broke this run many possessions later when they used an inbounds play to get an open three in the corner which junior Ava Martin made. This drew the score closed, 25-14, but Millard West still had a long way to go. As the clock was winding down on the first half, senior Laney Schipper made a layup right as the buzzer sounded. This gave the Wildcats an uphill battle as they went into halftime down nine points, 25-16.

“At halftime, we felt really optimistic about our chances of overcoming the deficit since we felt like we had been playing a lot better than what we had anticipated,” Hoffman said. “We figured that if we kept playing with a good tempo and pace, we could keep up with them and stay in the game.”

Southwest came out strong in the second half, as well, and they were able to make a layup and three before the Wildcats could get on the board, stretching their lead to 30-16. The Wildcats finally got on the board when Peterson drove down the court and quickly scored a layup before the Silver Hawks could get set. Following this, Southwest was able to nail another three, and Peterson made another layup for Millard West, making the score to 33-20. Southwest continued to be strong from beyond the three point line and hit another, which the followed up by getting a steal and layup. They added a free throw to their score as well which now became 39-20. 

Each team then traded three pointers, and Southwest followed that with a layup, giving them a commanding 21 point lead. After a miss by Millard West, the Silver Hawks were able to find the net yet again with another layup. Southwest continued this run a few possessions later when they hit from range yet again, giving them an impressive 49-23 lead.

The Silver Hawks were then fouled on back to back possessions and made all four free throws, expanding their lead to 53-23. As the clock was winding down, the Wildcats were fouled themselves and made both their free throws as well, closing the gap slightly to a Southwest lead of 53-25 as the third quarter ended. 

We broke the press well which led to my layups on the other end,” Peterson said. “As well as in the half court, my teammates did a good job getting me open and helping me get good looks and good shots. I also finished well around the rim.”

The fourth quarter began with the Wildcats trailing by a large margin and hoping for a miracle. They started off fast with Peterson driving down the lane for a layup right away. A few possessions later, the Silver Hawks got a layup of their own coming off an intercepted Millard West pass. These layups for each team raised the score to 55-27. On the next play, Southwest was able to intercept another Millard West pass and drive down the court for the layup, giving them an impressive 30-point lead, 57-27. Following this, Peterson cut behind the defense towards the hoop and coming off a nice pass scored another layup, this added to her strong point total and brought the score to 57-29. 

The Silver Hawks then stormed down the court and forced Millard West into fouling, sending Southwest to the free throw line where they sank both free throws. This brought the game back to a 30 point difference. The rest of the game continued to be a struggle for the Wildcats as their defense could not stop the Silver Hawk attack while their offense continued a lackluster performance. Southwest was able to put up 12 more points while the Wildcats were limited to two. As the clock struck zero, the scoreboard showed a 69-31 Southwest win.

This loss marked the end of Millard West’s season. Although the Wildcats had a disappointing season, with a young team, they should be able to rebound for next season.