Freya Gilbertson

Senior Freya Gilbertson helped the McFarland High School girls basketball team battle to their first Rock Valley Conference victory over Jefferson 59-43. She scored five points in the game, all on free throws as the Spartans made 22-of-28 from the charity stripe.

Junior Lindsey Lonigro held the hot hand for the McFarland High School girls basketball team when it hosted Jefferson Nov. 22 in the Rock Valley Conference opener for both teams.

Lonigro knocked four 3-point shots and led the Spartans to a 59-43 win. The victory improved McFarland’s record to 1-1 overall, and 1-0 in the Rock Valley Conference.

Good free-throw shooting also helped the Spartans, which made 22-of-28 attempts from the line. Morgan Butler was perfect in four tries from the charity stripe, Freya Gilbertson was 5-of-6 and Katie Hildebrandt connected on 5-of-8.

McFarland took a 31-22 lead at halftime and outscored the Eagles 28-21 in the second half.

Hildebrandt had eight points for the Spartans and Lydia Brandt put in seven.

Jefferson was led by Ainsley Howard with 12 points.

The Spartans return to the hard wood Tuesday Dec. 3 with a non-conference game against visiting Oregon with tipoff scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

The Panthers won their season opener over Evansville, but lost its second game to Lake Mills.

Mount Horeb 60, Spartans 54

The jump shot seemed to be the go-to choice on offense for McFarland when it took the court Nov. 19 in its season opener against visiting Mount Horeb. Unfortunately, not enough of those shots fell through the hole for the Spartans, which lost a 60-54 decision, although there were times when it was questionable Mount Horeb wanted the victory.

The Vikings made only 16 free throws in 38 attempts, opening the door to McFarland taking control of the game. Unfortunately, the Spartans could not get the win after hitting nine 3-point shots but only six from 2-point territory.

Spartans head coach Sara Mallegni said she aims to have the team try to get better shots closer to the hoop.

“Our goal as part of our offense is to get more paint touches,” Mallegni said. “We were backing up rather than attacking a lot of times. I expect we will be attacking the basket more.”

The Silver Eagles had a 26-16 lead at halftime, but the Vikings started to attack the basket more in the second half and came back to tie the game 29-29 five minutes into the second half.

Mount Horeb opened a 43-39 lead with 7:50 remaining in regulation, but Lonigro’s two free throws and a 3-point shot, and two free throws by Gilbertson put the Spartans back on top 46-43 with 6:10 remaining. But a 3-point shot tied the game and a 7-0 run put the Vikings in control 56-50 with two minutes remaining. McFarland trailed 59-54 with 19.2 seconds remaining but a two missed 3-point tries fell short.

McFarland started out well as Hildebrandt and Peyton Witt hit 3-point shots to give the Spartans an early 6-0 lead. Gilbertson’s layup put McFarland up 8-2, but Mount Horeb hit threes on two consecutive possessions to tie the game 8-8 with 13:58 left in the first half. Two more threes put the Vikings ahead 15-11 at the 10-minute mark, but McFarland erased that deficit on threes by Hildebrandt and freshman Adrienne Kirch to go up 19-15 with four minutes left in the half. With under a minute before the break, Morgan Butler and Witt connected on 3-point shots to give McFarland a 26-16 halftime lead.

It was the varsity debut for Kirch and fellow freshman Brynne Bieri, and Mallegni was impressed with their performances.

“I anticipate Adrienne will only get better this season. She has spent a lot of time playing basketball,” Mallegni said. “Brynne was kind of a surprise. She is very coachable and learns things very quickly. If you tell her something, she does it right away. She is constantly trying to learn.”

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