ARGOS — Argos’ girls basketball team overcame some early tournament jitters and ball handling problems to hand visiting West Central a 52-38 loss in the Winter Classic at home at Phil Weybright Gymnasium Thursday night.
Out point guard Jami Patterson, the Lady Dragons struggled bringing the ball up the floor against the Lady Trojans’ fullcourt press with 10 turnovers in the first frame.
But the home team began to settle in late in the period, going up by double digits with six unanswered points spanning from the 1:22 mark of the first frame to the 7:14 mark of the second. A steal and a bucket by West Central sophomore Mickayla Wenzel broke the streak at the 5:34 stop of the period, but Argos senior forward Kayla Prochno’s offensive rebound for a traditional three-point play followed up a Shelby Sanders’ steal and wing triple at the 3:31 stop, and the Dragons never led by less than double digits the rest of the way.
The team advances to the tournament championship opposite Kankakee Valley Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“West Central does a good job with the press, and I think we had to withstand the first four or five turnovers right away and just settle down and settle into our game. The kids started executing our press break and getting the ball where it needed to go,” said Argos head coach Gary Teel. “They came after us really, really hard at the beginning, and they’ve got a nice press. They’ve got some big kids up front that make it effective. And I think it was just a little bit of nervousness at the beginning of the game some kids had. Once we settled in, I think they did a much better job seeing the whole floor and making decisions.”
The Lady Dragons were led by senior guard Karlee VanDerWeele, who scored a season-high 18 points while dishing out three assists manning the point along with Sanders in Patterson’s absence. Prochno finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with another team-high of four steals and two assists.
Sanders, Libby Moyer and Amanda Middleton each scored six, and Kelsy Kring chipped in a bucket as six different Lady Dragons made the score sheet in the win.
“I just thought Karlee stepped up tonight and handled the ball handling duties and did a nice job with that. And Shelby I thought did her job as well. She handled the ball when she needed to, but we got the ball to Karlee and kept it in her hands because she’s a good free throw shooter and we tried to spread the floor on them,” said Teel.
“Kayla, once again, a yeoman’s job underneath. And Libby and Amanda and Kelsy. We couldn’t have won the game without everybody doing their part. All six of those kids and even Shacoda Leed coming in and giving us three or four minutes to help on resting people, too. It was a team effort, and that’s what I enjoyed about the win.”
The Trojans were led by Wenzel’s all-around game of 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals. They slipped a game below .500 at 5-6 with their second straight loss.
The Dragons snapped a two-game losing streak after losses to North Judson and Caston. Argos moves to 6-5 and now advances to play Kankakee Valley — a 49-34 winner over Rochester Thursday night — in the Winter Classic championship Saturday at West Central with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We play some tough teams. The game at North Judson was right down to the wire… and Caston, kind of the same thing, the game is tied and one or two possessions turn the game. The ball had not been bouncing our way. Our kids were playing hard, but the ball just wasn’t bouncing our way breakwise in those two games,” said Teel.
“It’s great to get a win, especially in a tournament at home. To get back after vacation, to have five days off, the kids played pretty well. I’m happy with that.”
• ARGOS 52, WEST CENTRAL 38
Score by quarters
West Central: 3 10 22 38
Argos: 11 25 41 52
WEST CENTRAL (38): Ashton Barkho 4, Sarah Becker 0, Mesha Masters 0, Alivia Kruger 10, Mickayla Wenzel 12, Hannah Czarnecki 1, Autumn Wireman 5, Samantha Lincoln 2, Lexi Foerg 5; Totals: 12 12-23 38.
ARGOS (52): Karlee VanDerWeele 18, Kayla Prochno 12, Shelby Sanders 6, Amanda Middleton 6, Libby Moyer 6, Kelsy Kring 2, Shacoda Leed 0; Totals: 17 16-24 52.
3-pointers: West Central 2 (Wireman 1, Foerg 1), Argos 2 (Sanders 2); Rebounds: West Central 25 (Wenzel 9), Argos 28 (Prochno 10); Turnovers: West Central 18, Argos 19; Steals: West Central 8 (Wenzel 3), Argos 12 (Prochno 4); Assists: West Central 5 (Barko 2), Argos 8 (VanDerWeele 3); Fouls (fouled out): West Central 21 (Barko, Masters), Argos 15 (none).
Records: Argos 6-5, West Central 5-6