SIOUX CITY | Class 4A 10th-ranked Sergeant Bluff-Luton spent much of the first three quarters of Thursday night's Missouri River Activities Conference girls basketball game either battling from behind or trying to maintain a narrow lead against a young, scrappy, rapidly-improving East squad.
Abby Wisecup scored the Warriors’ first six points in the fourth quarter, the frame in which the visiting veterans finally took control. Wisecup scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the second half of a 65-50 victory.
“At halftime, we needed to know we needed to push the ball and we needed to get back on defense and rebound,” said Wisecup. “Since we’re down a post, we know we’re kind of small so we needed to get back and push. Then, I could play my game.”
Wisecup recorded her fourth point/rebound double-double of the season for Coach Miranda Riediger’s Warriors, also grabbing 10 rebounds. The 5-foot-10 junior also 21 points and 10 steals in a 60-53 win over Bishop Heelan, the team which they’ll host Friday in a key MRAC tilt.
“She’s a competitor,” said Riediger of Wisecup, who scored 11 third-quarter points. “We always know she’s going to make great plays and that she’s going to make a difference on the floor. She definitely did that in the second half.”
Kenzie Foley, a 5-11 sophomore, recorded her seventh double-double of the season, providing 16 points and 10 rebounds for Sergeant Bluff-Luton (11-5, 7-2 MRAC). Anna Lucas and Lexi Sneller each tallied 11 points in the squad’s first game without 6-foot senior Kylee Christensen, who suffered a left hand injury while grabbing a rebound in the first half of last Saturday’s 71-46 win over Spencer.
Christensen’s return is unknown, meaning the Warriors will be trying to pick up the pace. They did that in the second half both offensively and defensively, forcing 13 turnovers while shooting 45 percent. They also converted 15 of 18 free throws in the game’s final five minutes, paced by Sneller’s 7 of 8 showing while Lucas was perfect in four tries.
“We definitely had a different approach to the game tonight,” said Riediger. “The girls have adjusted really well. We only really have had one day of practice with the new game plan. The girls have adjusted well to it.”
Katlynn Tucker scored 15 points for East (2-13, 2-7) while Kennedy McCloy and reserve Laken Gardner each added 10. Coach Brian Drent’s Black Raiders opened up a 12-6 first quarter advantage on Tucker’s basket and owned three three-point leads in the second quarter.
Madi Van Dyke’s two free throws gave East a 29-27 third-quarter advantage, but Sergeant Bluff-Luton scored the game’s next six points, taking a 33-29 lead when Wisecup scored off a Lucas assist. However, McCloy’s 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in the third forced a 42-all tie.
Tucker’s outside basket was good for a 44-43 lead. Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s ensuing 9-1 run included a Lucas 3-pointer after an East turnover for a 52-45 advantage.
“I thought our girls were really good for three and a half quarters,” said Drent. “I told them in the locker room I didn’t know if it was we didn’t play well, I think a lot of it had to do with what Sergeant Bluff did. They made some good defensive adjustments. We couldn’t get any really good looks.
“We’re trying to work stuff out with our youth,” he added. “We had a lot of sophomores on the court. Sometimes, the shots weren’t going in. Sometimes, they weren’t the greatest shots. I think a lot of it is credit to Sergeant Bluff. They’re really long. They had a good defensive plan in the second half.”
Emma Christensen scored 18 points and Madelyn Mogensen added 17 as Sergeant Bluff-Luton posted a 52-43 win in the junior varsity contest. Rylee Irwin led East with 11 points.
East will continue conference play Tuesday at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.