Walnut Grove pulled together its defense after the first period, putting a stop to the Lady Pirates’ Starla Staffen and sealing the tournament championship, 57-44.
The Lady Pirates pulled out of an 8-point deficit in the third period (27-19), thanks to a basket by Staffen, followed by a rebound and 3-pointer from Kari Hillenburg.
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Lexi Harman answered with a basket for Walnut Grove, followed by a 3-pointer by Audree Crain and another score from Harman, ending the third period 36-28.
The Lady Tigers held onto that momentum and defensive pressure, eventually winning by 13.
“They’re a good team. We knew they were a good team. They battled all the way through. Our kids did a good job of defensive intensity the whole night. We did a good job on the half court, putting pressure on them, and not giving up easy baskets. At the end, we took care of the ball, and we took good shots,” said Henry.
Heather Harman earned the title of tournament MVP. Harman attributed the Tigers’ success to teamwork, sealed by friendship.
“We’re really close as a team. Everybody knows each other really well, so it’s easy to make smart decisions, because we read each other. We have good chemistry, and we always know what each other are doing on the floor,” said Harman.
The Lady Pirates’ offensive duo of Kari Hillenburg and Catlin Evans was broken early in the 4th period when Evans fouled out. Hillenburg scored 14 points on the night; Evans had 8.
The Lady Pirates’ coach Jim Flora looks forward to the progress his team will make.
“I was proud of how hard they played. We didn’t give up. Hopefully, we can build from this. Our conference is really tough. Night in, night out, that’s the kind of defense and teams we’re going to have to play. Hopefully, that will make us strong come district time. We’d like to make a run at a district title; that will be our goal,” said Flora.
Walnut Grove 57, Pleasant Hope 44
Walnut Grove 9 14 13 21 57
Pleasant Hope 12 5 11 16 44
Pleasant Hope: Kari Hillenburg 14, Starla Staffen 14, Catlin Evans 8, Kylie Haraldson 2, Kori Hillenburg 6
Walnut Grove: Lexi Harman 19, Karsyn Hejna 13, Heather Harman 11, Audree Crain 7, Miranda Allison 5, Ellen Hayter 2