The Little River girls basketball team has endured some hard times the past few years, especially considering its tradition, but it is slowly but surely returning to its old form.
The Redskins, who have improved each of the last two years, showed Friday they may be on the verge of something big with a 49-24 victory over Ell-Saline
Reminiscent of the old Shane Cordell days, Little River jumped out to a 21-8 first-quarter lead and had the game basically decided by halftime.
Emma McBride tossed in 17 points to lead the Redskins and Melanie Renken added 12.
“Very proud of the way the girls came out and competed this first game, especially on the road,” Little River coach Trey Look said. “We came out with some pressure in the first quarter and that set the tone for us. Emma McBride hit some big 3s for us, which opened up the inside for Melanie Renken. This was solid team effort that we’ll look to build on going into tournament next week.”
• Little River boys 52, Ell-Saline 38 — The Little River boys completed the sweep, holding the Cardinals to just 13 first-half points in building a 19-point lead.
Freshman Jayden Garrison was on fire from long distance, knocking down a half-dozen 3-pointers and finished the game with 29 points. Levi Swenson added 10 points.
Ell-Saline actually outscored Little River by five in the second half, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.
• Rural Vista boys 50, Canton-Galva 36 — The teams were dead-even in quarters 2 and 3, but the Heat doubled the Eagles in the first and fourth quarters, 28-14.
Jonah Sargent buried four treys and scored 19 points to lead C-G. He also was a defensive menace with 8 steals.
“Jonah really played well,” C-G coach Shane Duncan said. “Besides him, our team went 20 percent from the field. I’m disappointed with the loss, we missed open shots that I expect us to knock down. Brayden Collins and Conner Koehn, freshmen, played well for their first varsity experience tonight.”
Dylan Wood pounded the boards for the Eagles, who have no starter than 6-0, with 13 rebounds.
• Canton-Galva girls vs. Rural Vista — No game information was reported.
• Moundridge boys 64, Pretty Prairie 44 — The Wildcats tuned up for next week’s highly competitive home tournament with a solid all-around win.
MHS coach Vance Unrau said he was pleased with most phases of the game, including balance. Noah Eichelberger, one of the top all-around athletes in Class 2A, led the way with 18 points, Dillon Vogts scored 16 and Jerod Kaufman added 11.
“We got out and ran the floor well tonight,” Unrau said. “Dillon Vogts gives us a solid point guard that can score as well as distribute. He has invested a lot in his game since last season and it is paying dividends. Noah Eichelberger proved tonight that he is becoming a more complete player than just a shooter. He led us on the boards (12 rebounds) and put in a solid defensive performance. All the other starters contributed and Dan Kaufman came off the bench and is a high-energy guy that had a solid game. Next week will be a tough three games for us so we will enjoy the win tonight but tomorrow morning we will think nothing but the next game.”
There was no rust to knock off as the Wildcats came out blazing, with 20 points in the first quarter and 19 in the second.
• Moundridge girls 43, Pretty Prairie 10 — It was an unbelievable defensive effort by the Wildcats, who gave up no more than 4 points in a quarter.
Offensively, returning standout Bethany Stucky showed why she will be one of the top players in the Heart of America League, funneling in 16 points.
Moundridge coach Brian Holloway said he was pleased with his team’s defensive work as well as its offensive balance.
• Abilene boys 85, Smoky Valley 67 — In a high-scoring opener, Smoky Valley received 29 points from Brett Heitschmidt and 26 from Nick Reinert, but Abilene was on fire all game.
Heitschmidt buried seven treys and Reinert three as the Vikings had 12 for the game compared to just eight 2-pointers.
Abilene fed off its crowd to stun the Vikings with a 24-7 first quarter and it was 41-21 by half.
Smoky Valley coach Doug Schneider said his team played much better in the second half as the early blitz put the Vikings on their heels in the first 16 minutes.
• Abilene girls 62, Smoky Valley 21 — The Vikings ran into a buzzsaw as Abilene sprinted to a 17-2 first-quarter lead and it was 34-7 by the half.
Keira Haxton led the Vikes with 9 points.
• Hesston boys 71, Sacred Heart 51 — During the preseason, Hesston coach Greg Raleigh was bemoaning the fact his team could be in a rebuilding mode.
So all it did in the season opener was explode past defending Class 2A state champion Sacred Heart, as a 25-9 third-quarter blitz changed the complexion of the game.
Reese Nebel, the most experienced Swather, took the leadership role with 28 points, 14 in each half.
Moundridge transfer Lantonio Unruh scored 19 points combined in the second and third quarters to aid the cause and finished with 21.
Hesston outscored Sacred Heart 48-26 in the middle two quarters.
• Hesston girls 62, Sacred Heart 42 — Top player Kailey Jo Ince was out for the Swathers, but Elise Kaiser and Alaina Dunlavy stepped up with monster games.
Kaiser poured in 25 points and Dunlavy added 19 to lead Hesston to the win. Coach Matt Richardson was happy with the performance and notes his team is tremendously athletic, with Rylie Schilling coming up big on the boards in Ince’s absence.
The Swathers started fast, scoring 20 points in the first quarter and were up 41-21 at the half.
• Inman boys 49, Goessel 24 — The Teutons were in lockdown mode, holding the Bluebirds scoreless in the first quarter and leading 27-4 at the half.
Payton Froese’s 19 points led Inman and Mason Thiessen added 11.
“We played OK tonight for the first game,” Inman coach Brett Froese said. “Had a lot of new kids playing so they were nervous as you can expect. We were pretty solid I thought defensively most of the night. Payton controlled the tempo most of the game. I thought Mason Thiessen was just OK tonight. He can be a lot better, but he is also just working back into shape. Got a really good effort from Jordan Friesen, who made a ton of hustle plays for us. It was a good start for us. We have a big week coming up next week. We will really see where we are at for sure.”
• Inman girls 35, Goessel 34 — It was an exciting opener for the Teutons, who survived the athletic Bluebirds.
MaKayla Michael, expected to be one of the top players in the area, tallied 14 points to lead the Teutons.
Inman’s defense was airtight in the first half as it led 22-13, then fended off Goessel in the second half.
• Note — Elyria Christian did not play.