Wildcats face off with Dragons

Millard West girls basketball looks to continue strong run against Gretna


photo courtesy of David Rochford

Junior Elizabeth Hoffman looks to find her open teammate. She helped the Wildcats capture their second straight win by notching eight points, four assists, and three rebounds. The Wildcats will look to continue their strong run tonight against Millard North. “We just need to continue to improve both our defense and offense,” Hoffman said. “We’ve been doing a good job of knowing who we need to focus on defensively on other teams, and we also need to continue to figure out what kinds of offense will work against other teams’ defenses.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

Coming off a dominant 20 point win over the Westside Warriors, the Millard West girls varsity basketball team walked into Wildcat I on Saturday, Feb. 5 to take on the Gretna Dragons.

The game started off with the Wildcats winning the tipoff and quickly finding sophomore Taylor Hansen who hit a mid-range jump shot to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. After a couple of misses by each side, a Hansen layup extended the Wildcats lead to four. After another couple of scoreless possessions, Millard West found junior Elizabeth Hoffman in the corner for a three pointer, making the game 7-0 and causing Gretna to take a timeout.

The timeout did not help the Dragons as on the Wildcat’s second possession freshman Norah Gessert was fouled while driving to the basket and made two free throws, giving Millard West a nine point advantage. Following this, Gretna finally found the scoreboard as they made a three pointer to make the score 9-3. The Wildcats backed this up with three straight three pointers of their own and the score became 18-3 with a minute and 30 seconds left in the opening quarter. Following a turnover the Dragons were able to add one point coming off of a free throw. Each team then scored two points to end out the quarter with the Wildcats up 20-6.

“We started really fast because we were able to get stops on the defensive end first,” head coach Marc Kruger said. “That led to transition and open three point shots, and we were able to hit five in the first quarter.”

The second quarter started with the ball in the hands of the Dragons; however, for over two minutes neither side was able to put the ball in the basket. This changed when Gessert was fouled and sent to the free throw line where she made two free throws to make the score 22-6. After another scoreless minute, junior Addison Klahn made a layup to push the Millard West lead to 18. Following this, junior Grace Kelley stole the ball and found Hoffman who made a three pointer to make the score 27-6. The Dragon then scored four quick points, all of which came off layups, and the score became 27-10. The final three minutes of the quarter saw each side only scoring three more points, and the game went to halftime with the Wildcats up 30-13.

The third quarter began, and Gretna came out looking much stronger than they had the previous two quarters. They started with a layup, forced a turnover and made another layup all in the span of the first 50 seconds of the quarter. However Millard West responded with a freshman Neleigh Gessert three pointer and a Kelley layup, making the score 35-17. The Dragons then came back with a three pointer of their own, cutting the Wildcat lead to 15. The final four minutes of the quarter saw not a lot of action on the scoreboard as the Wildcats were only able to manage four points while they held the Dragons to two. Following a strong defensive quarter for each team, the game was headed to the fourth quarter with Millard West up 39-22.

“We did a very good job of guarding their actions like we had talked about in practice,” Kruger said. “This really limited the number of good looks that they got. Our zone also was effective in being able to get into some passing lanes and get steals.”

Gretna got the ball to start the first quarter; however, it was the Wildcats who found the scoreboard first. Over two minutes into the new quarter, Hansen made one free throw to make the score 40-22. After a few empty possessions by each team Gretna began to heat up and went on a 8-0 run, and the Dragons took a timeout with three minutes left to play. The timeout did not help Gretna enough as throughout the final stretch of the game the Dragons were able to score only three points while Millard West added four to their total.

“I think that they started to apply more pressure to us since we were hitting our shots,” Hoffman said. “Because of the additional pressure, we weren’t able to get as many shots up.”

Despite a rocky fourth quarter, the Wildcats were able to hold on for a 44-33 win and push their streak to two wins in a row. The win also improves their overall record to 10-8. The Wildcats will be back in action tonight where they will face off against the Millard North Mustangs at home.