The Waterloo girls basketball team took home an impressive 55-42 Capitol — South conference win over Cambridge on Tuesday, Jan. 11. With junior guard Julia Asik still sidelined with a bone bruise and a mid-game injury to the Pirates’ lone senior, forward Alyssa Baumann, the rest of the Pirates stepped up and cobbled together a gutsy win to move into a tie for first place in the conference with New Glarus.
“That’s a total team win,” Waterloo head coach Gabe Haberkorn said. “Every single one of the girls did something well tonight. I’m super impressed with how all of the girls played.”
Waterloo came into the contest not only short on players, but short overall. Cambridge had two starters, 6’ Mayah Holzhueter and 5’11” Brooke Stenklyft, that were taller than any player on the Pirates’ roster. To combat this, Haberkorn had his Pirates operate a 2-3 zone on defense.
“The funny thing is, we hadn’t really gone over it,” Haberkorn said of the 2-3 zone. “We knew we’d have to make some adjustments, but the girls really picked it up. I was surprised how quickly they picked things up. For not having run it before, I thought we ran it well.”
The fresh defensive look was unquestionably frustrating for the Cambridge offense. The Pirates kept their arms up and disrupted passing lanes, leading to plenty of turnovers and very little scoring.
On offense, the Pirates made their money in the paint. Baumann was off to a hot start thanks to smart passes from teammates while guards Ava Jaehnke and Brenna Huebner found success driving the lane.
It looked as though the game would break wide open as sophomore guard Tess Blundell knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Pirates a 14-12 lead with about 4:40 left in the first quarter. But, in an effort to grab a potential rebound, Baumann went down with an ankle injury and took quite awhile to get up. She couldn’t even put weight on it as she limped off the court, and it was hard not to assume the worst for remainder of the game.
The shift in momentum was palpable as Cambridge immediately converted an and-1 bucket on the other side and scored six unanswered buckets at the end of the half to take a 22-19 lead into the break.
To kick off the second half, the training staff was still working with Baumann to get her ready to potentially re-enter the game. Her replacement, sophomore Ashlynn Albrecht, helped sooth the pain of losing the team’s lone senior.
She started the second half on fire, netting three consecutive bucket amidst a 9-0 run from the Pirates to assume a 28-22 lead and establish complete control of the game’s momentum.
“Ashlynn made us look like geniuses,” Haberkorn said. “We’re rushing to get Alyssa taped up and she comes in and scored six quick points to sparkplug the second half.”
From there, the 2-3 continued to work it’s magic for the Waterloo defense. Junior Kodi Seeber, filling in for Asik’s usual role at the top of the defense, was a completely competent replacement and helped keep things calm at the top of the key and on the wings. The trouble, however, started to come from the corners.
The Bluejays found and exploited a few opportunities from the Waterloo defense as senior guard Taylor Stenklyft nailed back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner to help Cambridge cut the Waterloo lead to just one point with about 8:34 left to play. To make matters worse, it was around this time that Blundell picked up her 4th foul and had to take a seat to preserve her for late in the game.
Enter: Baumann. With her ankle taped and determination in her eye, she returned to the court and made a huge impact on both sides of the ball. She was ripping down rebounds, scored two buckets, and manned the middle of the 2-3 to slow down the Cambridge scoring outburst.
A 3-pointer from Huebner gave the Pirates a 42-39 lead with just over two minutes to play. Cambridge knew it was time to start fouling. The Bluejays went from two total team fouls to seven in a hurry in an effort to get the Pirates to the free throw line.
Jaehnke threw a wrench in Cambridge’s plan as she knocked down three of her first four free throw attempts to maintain the Waterloo lead.
With the Cambridge offense operating at a break-neck pace in an effort to take a lead, sophomore Bri Lauersdorf made two of the biggest plays of the game. She stuck her hand into two separate passing lanes and nabbed two steals, one of which she took all the way down the court for an easy layup.
Huebner iced things with a bucket off of an offensive rebound and a pair of made free throws, finalizing a huge 55-42 conference win for Waterloo. Cambridge’s Holtzhueter led all scorers with 14. Huebner led the way for Waterloo with 13, followed by Baumann and Jaehnke with 10 each.
The Pirates followed this one up with another conference matchup, this time on the road against Belleville. The 10-1 Wildcats proved to be a worthy adversary, handing Waterloo a 73-50 loss on Friday, Jan. 14. After the dust settled after an eventful week, Waterloo emerged with a 6-7 overall record and 2-2 mark in the Capitol — South conference.
The Pirates will spend the entirety of this week on the road as they’ll travel to Dodgeland on Monday, Jan. 17 before heading to Marshall for a rivalry game on Thursday, Jan. 20.
Capitol — South girls basketball standings
- as of Friday, Jan. 14
(overall records in parenthesis)
1. New Glarus, 3-1 (11-3)
2. Belleville, 2-0 (11-1)
3. Cambridge, 2-1 (9-4)
4. Waterloo, 2-2 (6-7)
5. Marshall, 0-2 (3-7)
6. Wisconsin Heights, 0-3 (3-11)