Wildcats battle the Bulldogs

Girls varsity basketball takes on Burke in a district matchup


Photo by Avery Cutler

Freshman Norah Gessert shoots a free throw late in the third quarter. Gessert totaled 10 points as well as a rebound and assist. The big win gives them confidence as they get ready for a big rivalry game against Millard South. “The girls know we can compete with anyone in the state,” head coach Marc Kruger said. “We just haven’t been able to break through and finish off a really good opponent. Hopefully this game can serve as a lesson that we can’t take possessions off and need to be ready to play our brand of basketball for all four quarters.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Bellevue West, the Millard West girls basketball team walked into Wildcat I on Jan. 25 to take on a much less talented Burke squad as they hoped to get back in the win column.

The Wildcats won the tipoff and straight away found freshman Norah Gessert who was fouled on a layup attempt and made both free throws. After a few empty possessions by each team, sophomore Taylor Hansen made a layup on a fast break to give Millard West a quick 4-0 lead. After another lull in the scoring, Burke got on the board with a putback layup to trim the lead with 5:27 left in the first quarter. Directly after this, the Wildcats found junior Grace Kelley as she made a layup to extend the lead to 7-2. Soon after, Gessert hit a three pointer to push the lead to 10-2 and force Burke to take a timeout.

The timeout did not seem to help the Bulldogs, as on the Wildcats’ first possession, Hansen was fouled and made both free throws, giving Millard West a 10 point lead. On Millard West’s next possession, senior Gwen Stocker got on the board with a layup, giving the Wildcats a 14-2 advantage. The final two minutes and 45 seconds saw only a single Bulldog three pointer, and the first quarter ended with the Wildcats up nine.

“I think we had a great start because we came into the game relaxed but confident in ourselves,” junior Elizabeth Hoffman said. “We were also coming off a really strong game against Bellevue West, and although we didn’t win, it really showed our potential as a team, and we felt good about going against Burke.”

Burke began the second quarter with the ball and quickly hit another three pointer to trim the gap to 14-8, however, Kelley came back with a three of her own to regain a nine point lead for the Wildcats. After a couple of turnovers by each side, a nice reverse layup by Burke made the score 17-10, and caused Millard West to take a timeout.

The timeout did not help Millard West as they missed a three which was followed by a Bulldog made three pointer, and suddenly the gap was only four points. A miss by each team followed by a junior Addison Klahn layup gave Millard West a 19-13 advantage and some of the momentum back. A few possessions later a tough Hansen layup gave the Wildcats an eight point lead. The final four minutes of the quarter saw . The final four minutes of the second saw a lot of rough offensive possessions as Millard West managed to add only three points with Burke scoring six. That made the score 24-19 as the buzzer rang for halftime.

“I felt like we relaxed and thought the game was over,” head coach Marc Kruger said. “The second quarter was really sloppy and I felt like we were getting out-hustled, and we only went into halftime with a five point lead.”

The third quarter started with the ball in the hands of the Wildcats as they quickly found Stocker for a layup, giving the Wildcats some momentum back as well as a seven point lead. A few possessions later, Burke got a layup and jump shot to fall as the Bulldogs captured all the momentum and cut the Wildcats’ lead to just three. A Gessert three pointer gave Millard West a little bit of breathing room as they looked to get back to the large lead they had lost. After a block by Gessert and layup by Kelley, the Wildcats were starting to build their lead again.

Millard West continued to build their lead the rest of the quarter as they managed to hold the Bulldogs to only seven points throughout the quarter. The offensive side of the ball also bounced back well after a tough second quarter as the Wildcats put up 21 points in the third. This sent the game to the fourth quarter with Millard West on top 45-26.

“During the third quarter, we managed to be stronger with the ball and limit our turnovers,” Kelley said. “We were patient on offense and looked to move and get our teammates open.”

The Wildcats got the ball to start the fourth quarter just hoping to hold onto their large lead; however, a steal and layup by the Bulldogs gave them two points as they hoped to start the comeback. On Millard West’s next possessions, Hansen was fouled and made two free throws to put the lead right back to 19 points. This was followed by a Burke timeout less than a minute into the quarter.

The timeout did not help the Bulldogs as coming out of it Millard West stole the ball, and junior Makenna Scholting hit a three pointer to give the Wildcats a 22 point lead. A pair of Burke misses and a pair of Scholting layups made the score 54-28 with six minutes left in the fourth. This was followed by Burke getting two layups of their own and the Wildcats tacking on one more making the score 56-32. The final four minutes of the game saw Millard West falter a little bit on both ends of the ball as they only managed to score four more points while allowing the Bulldogs to score seven. However, it was not nearly enough as the Wildcats won by a score of 60-39.

“This win gives us confidence for the approaching game against Millard South because we’re starting to realize which offensive and defensive plans work best against tough teams,” Hoffman said. “The win gave us more trust in our different skills as a team and how to use them against South.”

This win pushes the Wildcats back above the .500 mark and gives them a 7-6 record on the season. Millard West will be back in action this Friday as they take on Millard South in the Battle of Q Street.