LOUISVILLE – The Louisville girls sailed into a winning harbor Thursday night after a successful voyage against Nebraska City.
The Lions dominated the Pioneers 52-30 in front of a large crowd in the LHS gym. Louisville built a 16-6 lead after one quarter and led 30-9 late in the second period. The Lions then embarked on a 13-2 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter to put the game away.
Louisville head coach Wally Johnson said he was happy to see the Lions do well in the first meeting between the schools. LHS forced 27 turnovers in the game and kept All-Eastern Midlands Conference post player Snezhana Serafimoska in check most of the night. The 6-foot-4 senior finished with nine points and six rebounds for NCHS.
“Since we hadn’t played them before we weren’t sure what to totally expect, so I was really pleased with the way we played tonight,” Johnson said. “We expected #13 (Serafimoska) to be pretty good, and she was, but we felt if we could make it more of an up-and-down game then we could wear them down as things went along. I thought we did a really good job of doing that and creating opportunities in both full-court and half-court settings.”
Nebraska City played most of the first half in a 2-3 zone to try to tempt Louisville to take quick 3-pointers. The Lions refused the bait and instead worked the basketball around both inside and outside. That maturity allowed the team to get short jumpers in the post and in-rhythm 3-pointers across the arc.
“We’ve been more patient against the zone this year than we have been in a long time,” Johnson said. “The girls are doing a really nice job of not settling for just an okay look, but they’ve been working it around to get a great look at the basket. Our posts are doing a good job of getting open, and our guards are doing a good job of finding them inside and moving around the perimeter.”
Meagan Mackling, Avery Heard and Jordan Winkler all drained shots in the first three minutes to help the Lions go ahead 9-2. LHS then increased its defensive pressure against the Pioneers. Louisville held Nebraska City to two field goals and one free throw in the second quarter and forced seven turnovers.
Louisville solidified its 30-11 halftime lead with a strong start to the second half. Winkler scored on a fast-break layup and Lauryn Kalkowski and Winkler both created treys for their teammates with assists. Fast-break layups by Mackling and Juliette Andrews made the margin 43-13 with 3:29 to go in the third quarter.
Johnson said Louisville’s rebounding abilities made a difference in the game. The Lions hauled in 25 boards during the contest and kept NCHS from gaining many second-chance attempts. Nebraska City had just five offensive rebounds in the first three quarters.
“We did a really good job of rebounding, especially in the first half,” Johnson said. “It’s always important to be able to limit the other team to just one shot, and we did a nice job of boxing out and getting those rebounds.”
Mackling went 6-of-9 from the field and scored a game-high 15 points. She added five steals, two rebounds and one assist. Kalkowski dished out five assists and tallied nine points and four rebounds, and Maia Johnson collected nine points, three rebounds and one steal. Winkler ended the game with nine points, three steals, three assists and three boards.
Andrews posted two points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist. Heard had six points, two steals, one assist and one rebound, and Faye Jacobsen generated two points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
McKenzie Norris produced four rebounds and two steals, Skyler Pollock had one rebound and one assist and Olivia Zahn grabbed two rebounds. Jennifer Katz blocked one shot and Katie Kerans and Lauren Votta both saw playing time.
Nebraska City 6 5 5 14 – 30
Louisville 16 14 18 4 – 52
Nebraska City (30)
Balfour 0-4 0-0 0, Trice 2-5 1-1 5, Davis 0-5 0-0 0, Anthens 3-8 0-0 6, Serafimoska 4-12 1-2 9, Allen 1-1 0-0 2, Balquier 0-1 1-2 1, Schaulis 1-2 0-2 2, Mitchell 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 13-40 4-9 30.
3-4 0-0 6, Mackling 6-9 1-1 15, Winkler 4-15 1-2 9, Kalkowski 3-8 0-0 9, Jacobsen 1-4 0-0 2, Zahn 0-2 0-2 0, Johnson 4-6 0-0 9, Norris 0-4 0-0 0, Andrews 1-3 0-0 2, Pollock 0-2 0-0 0, Katz 0-0 0-0 0, Kerans 0-1 0-0 0, Votta 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 2-5 52.