A battle between two teams looking for their first win of the season turned out to not be much of a battle at all, with Kenyon-Wanamingo Girls Basketball easily besting Faribault Bethlehem Academy, 51-30.
The Cardinals got their first points on the board and took a 3-2 lead minutes into the game with a 3-point shot from Katie Trump. But the Knights roared back, scoring 9 consecutive points before Bethlehem Academy could score again.
After catching their breath, Bethlehem Academy rebounded and had a chance to enter halftime trailing by a single digit, but K-W answered the call on defense and got a clutch 3-point shot from Tessa Erlandson to give the Knights a 13-point lead at the half.
The Knights put the game away with a strong start to the second half, dominating on both sides of the ball and stretching their lead to 24 points. In the final minutes, Bethlehem Academy was able to tighten and keep the margin from getting even more out of hand.
For the Knights, Megan Mattson led the way with 20 points. Overall though, K-W’s attack was balanced, with Erlandson, Nora Woock and Madi Luebke putting up 8 points apiece and Julianna Boyum adding 6.
Bethlehem Academy struggled to put points on the board, but Trump led the way with 11 while Grace Ashley added 7. The Cardinals’ offensive struggles contrasted with their first game of the season, when they put up 61 points in a loss to St. Clair.
K-W coach Jake Wieme said he was largely pleased with his team’s performance. The team put together a strong defensive game plan and it worked to great effect, as they successfully pressured the Cardinals’ shooters for nearly the entire game.
“We talked all week about being more aggressive and putting ball pressure on them,” he said. “We knew who the shooters were and we did a good job closing out on them.”
Bethlehem Academy’s first-year coach, Scott Trump, expressed disappointment with his team’s performance. One bright side for the Cardinals was that they were able to protect the ball reasonably well, with only 13 turnovers.
In most other areas, the Cardinals struggled - and Trump refused to make excuses. However, he said that he’s hopeful that the young team will improve and become more consistent as the season continues.
“We played slow and sluggish tonight,” Trump said. “We don’t usually play that way, we don’t practice that way. We talked about the importance of showing up to play every night.”
K-W enjoyed a significant experience advantage over Bethlehem Academy, as they will over most other teams they will face. The Knights have eight seniors on their roster, including four of the team’s top five scorers from last season.
By contrast, Bethlehem Academy leans heavily on freshman Trump and sophomore Mercedes Huerta. The team has three seniors on the roster, but Ashley starts regularly for the Card.
With that extra experience, the Knights hope to improve on their 7-18 record from last year. Although the Cardinals’s core is younger, they are also returning most of their players from last year as the team hopes to rebound from two disappointing seasons.