Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
WARDSVILLE, Mo. — Four Blair Oaks Lady Falcons scored 10 or more points Thursday against Eldon, but it might have been a player in single digits whose points mattered most.
Sarah Wolken hit all three of her shots in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead jumper with 54 seconds to play as the Lady Falcons defeated the Lady Mustangs 63-59.
Wolken’s first shot of the fourth quarter came on a putback to give Blair Oaks a 54-49 edge. Eldon went on a quick 4-0 run with two baskets from Macie Halderman, but Wolken put a halt to that, hitting her second shot of the quarter exactly a minute after the first.
The Lady Mustangs hit the game’s next two field goals to tie Blair Oaks at 58 with 1:16 to go. Wolken didn’t hesitate, sinking her final shot of the game on the next possession and giving the Lady Falcons a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“That was huge,” Blair Oaks coach Kevin Kohler said. “Sarah is a player that has scored 20 points in a game, and she can step up and score with really just anybody.”
Kellie Fredendall hit two free throws on the Lady Falcons’ next trip down the floor and Macyn Wilbers sealed the deal with a free throw to give Blair Oaks a two-possession lead.
Wilbers finished with a game-high 12 rebounds to go with six points.
“She’s a huge leader,” Kohler said. “I’ve tried to tell her — she’s been worried about having a little bit of a shooting slump, and I said, ‘Girl, you can help us win if you don’t score any points.’
“She just can. She’s just quick, unusually quick for a 6-foot-tall person, and handles the ball well and she rebounds and so I’m just proud of all of them. We had a lot of standouts tonight.”
Frendendall scored a team-high 14 points to go with 11 rebounds. Brooke Boessen, Makenna Kliethermes and Sydney Wilde were also in double digits for Blair Oaks with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Wolken finished with eight.
“I was just telling the ladies that one of the advantages that I think we have is that we’re just so deep,” Kohler said. “I’ve literally got 10 kids that have scored in double figures this year and most teams can’t say that.”
The Lady Falcons began the game with a pressure defense and though they forced eight first-quarter takeaways, they had five turnovers of their own. The teams ended the period tied at 14.
“We pressed at moments, and the girls kind of have a code,” Kohler said. “I’m not going to spill the beans, but they know at certain times that they’re to put the press on, and that seems to work better for us, when people aren’t expecting it after every score.”
The Lady Falcons had to keep tabs on Halderman, who finished with a game-high 19 points, and Taylor Pehle, who scored 11.
“Pehle, she had 30-something on us last time,” Kohler said, “and the other girl, the Halderman girl, is a scoring machine, so we just had to be mindful of them and focus. You have to stay focused and remember that you’re playing a very elite player.
“The Halderman girl is just a sophomore and the way she’s already playing, she looks like, to me, she’s going to be a top-of-the-line, college-type player, and the girls just have to stay focused on that. We lost it a couple of times, but we did it well enough that we got them stopped.”
Hannah Green added 11 points for the Lady Mustangs. She and Halderman combined for 18 of Eldon’s 20 fourth-quarter points. Despite the Lady Mustangs’ late surge, Blair Oaks was able to hold on, scoring 18 points for the second consecutive quarter.
“They’re closing better,” Kohler said. “We’ve been ahead of, I don’t know, probably five or six teams this year in games we probably could’ve won if we had closed out, but we’ve struggled with that a little bit.
“But the last two games with Hallsville and Eldon, we’ve stuck right in there and got the job done and hit enough free throws to win.”
Blair Oaks (11-11) hosts Versailles on Monday.
The Lady Falcons won the JV game as well, 55-17.
All 10 players on the Blair Oaks JV team (10-4) scored.