Warriors thrown to the WolvesWinfield-Mt. Union's defense shuts down WACO in regional quarterfinal
WINFIELD — They had a game plan, and they stuck to it.
Winfield-Mt. Union shut down WACO’s inside game, and their efforts earned them a 42-26 victory over the Warriors in Tuesday night’s Class 1A Region 4 quarterfinal.
The Wolves worked hard to stop WACO’s leading scorer, sophomore Aaliyah Brown, in particular. Brown, a 5-foot-11 post player, scored 16 points last time she played in Winfield, pacing the Warriors in a 52-46 win over the Wolves.
“We watched a lot of game film and prepared better [for this contest],” said Winfield-Mt. Union senior Cassie Kingery, who led the Wolves in scoring with 13 points. “We had an excellent practice the night before the game, and it showed while we were playing.”
Winfield-Mt. Union limited Brown to eight points in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal, and four of those came in the fourth quarter after the Wolves had already built a comfortable double-digit lead.
“The key was defense,” Winfield-Mt. Union head coach Mitch Wachs said. “We knew they would get some looks, but I think we did a good job defending Brown. I think this game was typical of the season — whoever’s there to make a play steps up. It’s not always pretty on offense, but we had a lot of kids make plays.”
The Wolves rely on their defense to keep them afloat, no matter what the offense is doing.
Last night, the Winfield-Mt. Union defense didn’t allow WACO passes to make it inside to Brown. They forced 21 turnovers and finished with 13 steals on the night, including seven by junior Shelby Therme.
“Defensively, they executed their game plan very well,” WACO head coach Shannon Rugg said. “They took away our inside game, and we didn’t hit our shots outside. We got some open looks, but they just didn’t go in.”
WACO shot just 21 percent from the field on the night. Brown’s eight points ended up being the team-high for WACO, as many of the Warriors’ outside shots missed their marks. They shot a mere 14 percent from 3-point range, sinking two in 14 attempts.
The Warriors end the season with a record of 8-15. They won’t lose any players to graduation next year, and hope that having the full squad back on the court next year will lead to a better season record.
“It depends on how much work they want to do in the offseason,” Rugg said. “We need to take better care of the ball and become better shooters. We were in almost every game this year. Hopefully next year, we can be on the top side of all those close games.”
The players are looking forward to being with the same group next season.
“I’m excited [for next year],” junior Jaelyn Unternahrer said. “I think we’ll be even closer as a team, and we all know what each other can do. This season, we definitely improved — got better every game. The outcome is not quite what we would have liked, but overall, it was a good year.”
Winfield-Mt. Union (18-5) advances to Friday’s regional semifinal at fifth-ranked Burlington-Notre Dame.
“I have full confidence in the kids, that they will fight like crazy,” Wachs said. “Anytime you do that, you give yourself a chance.”