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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
WARTBURG—Wartburg opened up their District 4-A season with an impressive sweep of Sunbright Friday night.
The Lady Bulldogs remained undefeated with a 70-41 victory over Sunbright, while the Wartburg boys cruised to a 69-24 win against the Tigers, who went the entire third quarter without scoring.
Wartburg extended Sunbright’s district woes with a convincing 70-41 win over the Lady Tigers, which lost their 52nd straight district game, including five tournament losses. Sunbright’s last district win came against Oakdale in a 66-64 decision back on January 23, 2004.
“I’m trying to preach to the girls that we’ve got a lot of season left. We’ve got a lot of time to improve our fundamentals and our shooting. We’re looking forward to getting into more district play,” explained Lady Tiger head coach Kathryn Johnson.
“Their (Wartburg) depth really wore on us. We came out with a plan to stop their two best players. I think we did an o.k. job on that. Our press, we just didn’t get back. They just beat us at our own game, our transition game.”
The Lady Bulldogs turned a lot of their 26 steals into points to roll up the 70-41 victory at home.
“I thought they (Sunbright) played really well. Sunbright came out and put tremendous ball pressure on our guards and it gave us a little bit of issues from time to time,” offered Wartburg head coach Jason Davis.
“I’m glad we didn’t start 0-1 in the district, because that would put us behind the eight ball a little bit.”
Sunbright’s Robbicca Williams scored the first basket of the game and the 2-0 lead would be their only advantage of the game. Wartburg went on a 13-2 run (Lauren Bunch and Miranda Longmire combined for ten points) to build a 13-4 lead with under three minutes left in the first quarter. By the end of the quarter, Wartburg led 17-8.
Sunbright’s Shalenia Freels came out with the hot hand in the second quarter and dropped in 7 points in the first three minutes to help close the gap to 19-17. The Lady Bulldogs then went on a 13-2 surge (Crystal Fountain tallied eight) over the next four minutes to build a 32-19 lead. Wartburg took a 34-21 lead into the locker room.
Sunbright’s Sunny Lavender hit a three-pointer and a deuce in barely a minute of action to start the third quarter to close the gap to 36-26, but Wartburg’s Fountain scored four straight points to ignite a 14-2 run over the next six minutes to push the lead to 50-28. Sarah Spence capped the run with a three-pointer. Lavender scored the last three points of the quarter to close the margin to 50-31.
Plenty of reserves saw action in the final frame and Wartburg’s Alisha Winegar and Amber Justes each knocked down a trey to highlight a 20-11 edge to help the home team close out a 70-41 win over Sunbright.
“We didn’t really have anybody go into the game and play poorly. I can see this team, if we keep working, being a team that is eleven or twelve deep come tournament time, which would be amazing,” said Davis.
“It is really important for us to start developing some of the kids down the bench, that eight, ninth, tenth player because I think that is where our strength lies this year. We’ve got a lot of kids that have come in and stepped up.”
Wartburg held a slim 44-43 edge in rebounding and used 26 steals to secure the home win.
Wartburg was led by the scoring trio of Crystal Fountain (18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals), Taleah Armes (11 points, 6 steals, 3 boards) and Lauren Bunch (11 points, 6 steals). Sarah Spence (5 points, 5 rebounds), Elizabeth Chapman (4 points, 7 rebounds), Miranda Longmire (4 points, 4 rebounds), Alisha Winegar (4 points, 4 steals, 3 boards) and Chelsey Lowe (4 points) all contributed in the win for the Lady Bulldogs.
“I was really pleased with the way the kids like Lauren Bunch and Elizabeth Chapman stepped up. Our rotation is starting to look a lot better. We’re probably about eight or nine deep right now, which is exactly where we thought we would be right now so we’re excited about that,” said Davis.
The Lady Tigers were paced by Jessika Dyer’s team-high 14 points, 19 rebounds and 4 steals. Robbiccaa Williams (9 points, 6 rebounds), Sunny Lavender (8 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Shalenia Freels (7 points, 3 boards, 3 steals) each played well for Sunbright (2-5, 0-2 in District 4-A).
LADY BULLDOGS (70): Crystal Fountain 18, Lauren Bunch 11, Taleah Armes 11, Sarah Spence 5, Miranda Longmire 4, Elizabeth Chapman 4, Alisha Winegar 4, Chelsey Lowe 4, Sarah Davidson 3, Amber Justes 3, Kellie Kidd 2 and Monica Barnett 1. Three-pointers (3)—Spence 1, Winegar 1 and Justes 1.
LADY TIGERS (41): Jessika Dyer 14, Robbiccaa Williams 9, Sunny Lavender 8, Shalenia Freels 7, Angeliccaa Williams 2 and Kayla Bowman 1. Three-pointers (3)—R. Williams 1, Lavender 1 and Freels 1.
Wartburg used depth to their advantage in their first district test of the season. The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-0 in District 4-A) had ten players score and held Sunbright to only eight made field goals in notching a 69-24 win.
“It’s hard to play six or seven guys and try to beat a team like us that has ten people in the rotation. We came out the second half and played defense as hard as we could and took it to them,” said Wartburg senior guard Caleb Bunch.
The Bulldogs held the Tigers without a field goal for over thirteen minutes in rolling to the 45-point win at home. Sunbright went the entire third quarter without scoring a point.
“We talked all week about getting them (Sunbright) up and down the floor and getting their bench in. I just thought we were deeper than them. I think they (Sunbright) just kind of hit the wall there in the third quarter. They couldn’t make anything and we were getting out in transition and doing what we do, rotating bodies and getting easy buckets,” explained Wartburg head coach Joe Layne.
“I’m proud of my guys. Any time you can get a county win or a district win, it’s a good win.”
Wartburg jumped out to an 8-1 lead behind Adam Griffith’s four points. The Tigers pulled to within 10-8 with 2:54 left in the first quarter with Tyler Chambers scoring four points. Wartburg’s Cody Goodman hit a three-pointer and added a basket inside to spark his team on a 7-2 run to end the quarter and push the lead to 17-10.
Goodman nailed another three-pointer to start the second period and sparked a 7-0 surge to build a 24-10 advantage with 6:42 left in the first half. The two teams played even during the next four minutes as the ‘Dogs kept that 14-point advantage (33-19) and was up 35-20 at the break.
The third quarter decided the game as Wartburg won it 23-0 as Griffith scored six points and Caleb Bunch and Zach Shannon each scored five to help build an insurmountable 58-20 lead.
“They (Wartburg) came out and had a great game plan in the second half. They outscored us 23-0 in the third quarter and that is the quarter that got us,” said Sunbright head coach Marty Maxfield.
Griffith scored the first basket of the fourth quarter and Andrew Howard added a deuce to make it 62-20. Sunbright’s Chambers scored on a putback with 4:41 left in the game to stop a 12:13 scoreless drought. The ‘Dogs scored five straight before Freshman Tyler Langley hit a shot for only the second field goal of the half for the Tigers. Wartburg’s Jaylon Shannon put the exclamation point on the game with a basket with only three ticks left to push the final margin to 69-24.
Wartburg held a commanding 47-25 edge on the backboards and they used 22 steals to roll up the 45-point win.
“We didn’t value the ball good on offense and defensively we gave up too many offensive rebounds. Those two things killed us,” said Maxfield.
The Bulldogs were led by the 1-2 punch of Adam Griffith (16 points, 15 rebounds) and Cody Goodman (11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals). Josh Kidd (8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals), Caleb Bunch (7 points, 6 steals, 4 assists) and Zach Shannon (7 points, 6 rebounds) all played big roles in the win.
“We got thumped pretty good last week (at Grace), and I kind of laid it at the feet of some of the younger kids, because there was just too much drop off. They really stepped up tonight. My bench really came forward and played hard and we just didn’t miss a beat,” said Layne.
Sunbright (1-7, 0-2 in District 4-A) was paced by Tyler Chambers (7 points, 4 rebounds), Matthew Higgins (6 points) and Randy Sexton (5 points, 3 boards).
“Coach (Marty) Maxfield does an excellent job and I think they will be very tough. I think they just hit the wall tonight a little bit and we were able to take advantage of that. They played us tough for a half and hung right in there,” Layne offered.
BULLDOGS (69): Adam Griffith 16, Cody Goodman 11, Josh Kidd 8, Caleb Bunch 7, Zach Shannon 7, Andrew Howard 6, Shawn Langley 5, Jaylon Shannon 5, Cody Sexton 2 and Jacob Griffith 2. Three-pointers (4)—Goodman 2, Bunch 1 and Langley 1.
TIGERS (24): Tyler Chamber 7, Matthew Higgins 6, Randy Sexton 5, Garrett Starkey 4 and Tyler Langley 2. Three-pointers (2)—Higgins 1 and Sexton 1.
Wartburg’s Caleb Bunch recently reached the 1,000-point plateau with his 24-point effort against Greenback and now has 1,040 career points heading into this week.
“It feels really good, especially being a point guard. It is hard to score and provide for your team being a point guard. It is a great honor,” said Bunch.
“I knew I had around 900-something. It didn’t really click in my mind until somebody said that I was getting close and I finally got it and it feels good.”
Coach Layne is proud of the milestone for Bunch.
“He (Bunch) is just a hard worker, he is a gym rat. I’m very proud of him and what he has accomplished,” said Layne.
Sunbright’s Randy Sexton also topped the 1,000-point mark with a 23-point effort vs. Oliver Springs and has 1,018.
Coach Maxfield believes Sexton has worked hard for the milestone.
“He’s (Sexton) really worked hard over the summer. What he has done has come from hard work. He is a team player and I’m proud of what he done,” said Maxfield.