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Daily Journal
     February 8, 2022      #76-39 KDJ
 

Watseka hosts Cissna Park as both schools honor

By Cody Smith
csmith@daily-journal.com


WATSEKA — The Watseka girls basketball team exhibited grit and tenacity in a 40-35 Vermillion Valley Conference win against Cissna Park at home Monday evening during a Military Appreciation night.

The Warriors forced 24 Cissna Park turnovers during the contest, including seven in the opening frame, which led to four Watseka points in transition and an early 13-4 lead, before holding off a Timberwolves squad that outscored the home team 19-14 in the second half.

“This was a typical Warriors basketball game,” Watseka head coach Barry Bauer said. “At times, we struggled scoring, but this group loves to play defense. We throw a lot of different stuff at our opponents defensively, and I thought that helped us get the win tonight.”

Before the contest, Watseka honored about 12 military veterans who were in attendance while raising about $500 for the “Wreaths Across America” organization. They also held a chili supper for the veterans before tip-off.

“Tonight was a special night,” Bauer said. “It was nice to see so many veterans come down to the court, and I think the girls appreciated them for coming to the game.”

Watseka improved to 21-4 with the win, the 11th in the past 13 games, with the help of its dynamic duo in Sydney McTaggart and Allie Hoy. The two combined for 23 points and 16 rebounds, including 16 first-half points, which ultimately helped the Warriors take a 26-16 lead into halftime before never looking back.

“McTaggart’s and Hoy’s performances were exactly what we needed them to do,” Bauer said. “It’s been like that all season, and I thought Haven Meyer gave us some good minutes, too. Meyer can maybe step up and be our third scorer come postseason time.”

As dominant as the Warriors were defensively on the evening, their offense wasn’t able to match at times, leaving Cissna Park an opportunity to cut its deficit to just five points midway through the third frame after a Brooklyn Stadeli offensive rebound and put-back layup that trimmed the Timberwolves’ deficit to 28-23.

Watseka eventually took a 33-27 lead heading into the final frame, which left the door open for the road team to climb all the way back. However, that’s when Hoy gave her squad some much-needed breathing room when she connected on back-to-back shots off a midrange jumper and a driving layup that helped put her squad back up double-digits.

The 39-29 lead built from Hoy’s clutch shooting late was all the Warriors needed to hold off the Timberwolves’ late comeback attempt.

“I felt like we came together as a team in that fourth quarter,” Hoy said. “We talked to each other and knew what we needed to do in order to pull off the win.”

Knowing his team is younger than most VVC squads, with seven of his 11 players being freshmen and sophomores, Cissna Park head coach Anthony Videka noted his team still is trying to figure out how to close games out.

“We are just still missing that extra gear to finish a game off or to try and secure a late comeback like we tried to do in the fourth quarter here tonight at Watseka,” Videka said.

Despite his team falling to 10-14 overall and 4-5 in the VVC this season with the loss, Videka was pleased his squad had the opportunity to honor military veterans.

“It was great to be a part of Military Appreciation night,” Videka said. “Coach Bauer asked us to be apart of this, and it was a no-brainier.

“To be able to support our troops tonight was fantastic.”

For more information about the “Wreaths Across America” foundation, go to wreathsacrossamerica.org

STAT BOOK

Allie Hoy’s 12 points, four rebounds and one steal led Watseka. Sydney McTaggart added 11 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. Meyer chipped in six points, and Claire Curry secured a team-high five steals.

Mikayla Knake led the Timberwolves with 11 points, followed by teammates Brooklyn Stadeli (eight points) and Addison Seggebruch (seven points).

UP NEXT

Watseka (21-4) will host Milford at 6 p.m. Thursday. Cissna Park (10-14) will return home for another VVC matchup against Chrisman at 6 p.m. tonight.

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