The bright lights of the Battle High School (BHS) court shone down on the Bruins girls’ basketball team as the starting five took to the court. Their cross town rivals, the Hickman High School (HHS) Kewpies, also took the court, and the cheers started to get louder.
With little student support, the Bruins began their fight to win the semifinal game of districts. RBHS had concerns of HHS’ starting senior guard Maci Kuchta putting up high numbers. To do this, the Bruins knew they needed to keep their defense aggressive and offense moving at a high intensity.
“No. 15, Kuchta is a good scorer for them, a great player. So, we knew we needed to always have her covered. They have some freshmen that are really playing well,” head coach Jill Nagel said. “I thought our kids did a good job of making sure we had shooters covered.”
“I thought our kids did a good job of making sure we had shooters covered.”
The Kewpies kept their defense close in the first quarter preventing RBHS from getting easy points. Despite this, the Bruins continued to take shots, but as the last minutes of the quarter ticked down the score remained close. They were up only 14-3 at the end of the first quarter, a small lead in comparison to the Bruins’ impressive record.
With a slow start in comparison to previous games for both teams, the Bruins sought to dominate by shooting cleaner and rebounding better. Eventually the Bruins sailed away on momentum, dominating the Kewpies.
Junior guard Mary Primus put up multiple shots from the corner to help expand the team’s lead. Sophomore guard Averi Kroenke also put in work on the defensive side of the ball, getting multiple steals and scoring on breakaways. The team did its best to keep its signature fast paced offense in motion. With a new fire under them in the second quarter, the team scored another 14 points leaving the score now 28-7 after two.
“At this point in the season any game can be your last, so just going out there, giving it your all every single possession on the floor,” Kroenke said. “We are just really trying to keep the mental side, keep attacking it and getting defensive steals and offensive transitions.”
A 14-point lead blossomed further for the Bruins, as their offense seemed to turn up another two notches after coming back from their halftime break. Both forwards, sophomore KK Brody and senior Caitlin Hayes saw the ball more frequently and were able to put up some more points for the team. Senior guard Eryn Puett also swished multiple threes in the third quarter, sinking any last hope for the opposers. The classic Bruin offense consistent to their extremely successful season came to play, and by the end of the third quarter RBHS was up 52-13.
In the fourth quarter, all the Bruin subs had made it into the game. Up and down the roster, the RBHS focused spirit could not be stopped. They pulled back their offensive push in a gesture of respect to the Kewpies, but they kept their defense up. Cheers from the crowd grew louder as the game came to an end, and the team, all red-faced, celebrated its 63-19 win over HHS before high-fiving their opponent.
The Bruins look to the district championship game, which will take place on Friday, March 6, at 6 p.m. at Battle. They will take on the Jefferson City High School Jays, a team they previously lost to in a close game 50-45.
How do you think the girls’ basketball team will do on Friday? Let us know in the comments below.