Melanie Watson

Melanie Watson rises up for two points in Waunakee's season opener. Watson was a significant contributor in the post all night, racking up eight rebounds in addition to her 11 points.

Game number one? Check. Win number one? Check.

The Waunakee girls’ basketball team cruised to a 26-point victory in their season opener – and their new head coach Marcus Richter’s first game leading the program – over Madison East Tuesday night.

“It was good,” Richter said of getting his initial game as head coach out of the way. “A little nervous going into it: first game. It was awesome to see the girls settle into the game and get an early-season win just to get some confidence moving forward.”

Waunakee 64,

Madison East 38

After a relatively close first half – only a late 11-2 run gave the Waunakee some breathing room – the Warriors opened the second half with a dominant run.

The Purgolders had cut Waunakee’s 11-point, 30-19 halftime deficit to just nine points, looking to claw their way into the contest. A 19-3 run – eight points from Lauren Statz – over the next seven minutes gave the Warriors a 49-24 lead: a large enough cushion to ensure little doubt over the game’s outcome.

“We have a deep and talented team that allows us to play a lot of girls, try to wear the other team out,” said Richter. “When they wear out, it gives us the opportunity to go on those runs. We also have a lot of girls who can play in transition. We turned them over a couple times; it allows us to get out and run and get a couple easy ones.”

The Warriors looked to feed whoever had the hot hand at any given point in the game, leading to a balanced attack offensively. On the back of a 10-point first half, Kailee Meeker led all scorers with 12 points. Ebba Harrison notched the final five points of the night for Waunakee, giving the game its final score of 64-38.

“I think [spread out scoring] is going to be a common theme all year long,” Richter added. “Different girls are going to get some easy buckets in transition. Within our offense, the girls trust each other; they don’t care who scores. They want to win games.”

Melanie Watson was effective in the post against a physical East frontcourt, racking up 11 points and eight rebounds on the night. Statz was next on the team with 10 points, followed by Elena Maier with nine, Harrison and Dotzler with five, and Ashley Sawicki with four. Ava Bryan tallied three points, Lauren Meudt and Kylee Grabarski each tacked on two, and Caitlyn Lynch rounded out the scoring with one point.

Waunakee’s aggressive defense paid off all throughout the night, as shown by their 13 team steals; Maier led the way, snagging five of her own.

The Warriors, now 1-0, will next hit the court on Thursday, when they’ll travel to Middleton in another matchup with a Big 8 opponent. Time time in Middleton is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

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