For his Wisconsin Dells girls basketball team to be successful this season, coach Bob Buss knows the Chiefs will have to use their aggressiveness and full court pressure to generate steals.
All three facets were on full display Friday night as the Chiefs rolled past Nekoosa 65-38 in a South Central Conference opener at Wisconsin Dells High School. It was a strong close to the week for the Chiefs, who struggled in a 66-41 loss to Reedsburg on Tuesday.
“That’s going to be a big part of our success; they know it and they work hard at it,” Buss said. “I believe the girls are buying in; they know for us to be successful, that’s what it’s going to have to be.”
Wisconsin Dells (2-1, 1-0 South Central) put its defense to use early on, darting out to a quick 10-0 lead in the first 3 minutes, 30 seconds. After a free throw by junior Bethany Smith, senior Jenna Mace converted a lay-up off a steal to put the Chiefs up 3-0.
From there, junior Katelyn Meister canned a 3-pointer and Wisconsin Dells added back-to-back lay-ups off steals, a putback 2-pointer by senior Jamie Bates and another basket from Mace, for a 10-0 lead at 14:30.
“That was our main goal, to come out with energy,” Buss said. “I thought our full court pressure hurt them right away.”
“Especially the guards, we know to try to double the ball a lot so whenever we see the opportunity, we’re taking more risks and going after the ball more,” Mace added.
Nekoosa (1-3, 0-1) eventually got going, cutting the Chiefs lead to 16-6 before Meister buried another 3-pointer to go up 19-8 with 8:55 left in the first half. From there, the Chiefs closed the half on an 11-6 run to take a 30-14 lead into the break, but at a cost.
Wisconsin Dells had three players – Mace, Meister and Bates – pick up two personal fouls, but the Chiefs were able to keep Nekoosa’s leading scorer Jenna Baker scoreless and saddled the 6-foot-1 post with three personal fouls.
“When one of their better players gets in foul trouble or doesn’t score in the first half, it gets our girls going,” Buss said. “One of our goals was to attack her, especially when she got the first (foul) and then the second. She stayed in and we really concentrated on getting the ball in the middle and making her play some defense.”
Baker quickly got on the stat sheet to open the second half, getting a layup within the first minute to make it 30-16. The Chiefs answered with a 7-0 run by Meister, including pair of 2-pointers and a 3-pointer, to go up 37-16 with 15:35 left to play.
“Since we had three starters on the bench for most of the first half, we were just a little tired,” Mace said. “After we warmed up, we got back into the game, were moving the ball around and were making our shots.”
The Chiefs continued to roll, ripping off a 19-6 run to go up 56-22 with 7:45 left before easing home for the 27-point victory. Meister led the way for the Chiefs pouring in 30 points, including four 3-pointers and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Mace was just as big, adding 13 points, mostly off of steals, and was a key distributor in the offensive end.
“We need them to score and they’re both unselfish and great team players,” Buss said. “We share the ball so well and Jenna doesn’t care if Katelyn has 30 and Katelyn is humble and doesn’t care if she had 30. It’s a good mix.”
“After the Reedsburg loss, we were kind of mad,” Mace added. “It was a good loss for us and looking at the tape, we saw everything we did wrong and it motivates us more.
While Mace and Meister were a lethal combination, Buss knows that the team can’t sustain its success with just those two.
“The other girls have to be aggressive,” he said. “If they have open shots, they have to take them. Our shooting tonight wasn’t good again, but these girls have to understand that if they’re open, they have to take the shots.”
WISCONSIN DELLS 65, NEKOOSA 38
Nekoosa 14 24 — 38
Wisconsin Dells 30 35 — 65
NEKOOSA — Dhein 1 0-0 3, Harnisch 0 2-4 2, Mortel 3 2-2 9, Keenan 4 3-8 11, Baker 3 3-5 11, Henriksen 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 10-19 38.
WISCONSIN DELLS — Bates 3 0-0 6, Meister 9 8-8 30, Pfeifer 2 1-2 5, Myklebust 2 1-2 5, Mace 6 1-2 13, Smith 2 2-4 6. Totals 24 13-18 65.
3-point goals — NEK 4 (Dhein 1, Mortel 1, Baker 2), WD 4 (Meister 4). Total fouls — NEK 11, WD 20.
Reedsburg 66, Wisconsin Dells 41
Prior to Friday’s win over the Papermakers, the Chiefs opened the week with a tough 66-41 non-conference loss to Reedsburg.
Wisconsin Dells started strong, heading into the break down five but the Beavers took over in the second half. Reedsburg got cooking in the final 18 minutes, outscoring the Chiefs 37-17 en route to the 25-point win.
Mace led the way with 17 points and Meister, who fouled out, added 10, but they were the only Wisconsin Dells players in double figures. Junior Jamie Pfeifer and Smith added eight and six points for the Chiefs.
REEDSBURG 66, WISCONSIN DELLS 41
Wisconsin Dells 24 17 — 41
Reedsburg 29 37 — 66
WISCONSIN DELLS — Meister 4 1-1 10, Pfeifer 4 0-0 8, Mace 7 2-2 17, Smith 2 2-2 6. Totals 17 5-5 41.
REEDSBURG — Douglas 8 4-6 25, Schyvinck 4 5-5 13, Straka 3 1-2 8, Korkewski 2 2-2 7, Miller 4 1-2 9, Dorow 1 1-2 3, Zunker 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 15-21 66.
3-point goals — WD 2 (Meister 1, Mace 1), R 7 (Douglas 5, Straka 1, Korkewski 1). Total fouls — WD 16, R 12. Fouled out — WD (Meister).