Chieftains open new gym with a win

BASCOM – In a year of firsts at the brand new Hopewell-Loudon school, the Chieftain girls basketball team made the most of its initial opportunity on the home floor.

Hopewell-Loudon’s balanced attack featured contributions from veterans and rookies alike. But the biggest contribution might well have come from St. Wendelin in the form of 42 turnovers as the Chieftains posted a 47-35 Midland Athletic League win Friday night.

“We told the girls it’s the first time in the building, there’s a real nice crowd, we’re not going to lose this first one,” H-L coach Rod Daniel said after his club evened its record at 1-1.

That mindset didn’t become reality until the Chieftains put together a 9-2 run over the first 4:35 of the fourth quarter.

Hopewell-Loudon led 35-31 at the third break. Freshman Alexis Feindel’s basket was offset by an inside hoop by St. Wendelin’s Kamryn Troike. But then Aleta Daniel hit a foul shot, Hope Brickner added a putback and a short jumper and Daniel capped the burst with a steal for a layup for a 44-33 edge with 3:25 to play.

Daniel added a 3-pointer a minute later to seal it for the Chieftains. St. Wendelin’s 12 fourth-quarter turnovers eliminated any opportunity for a comeback.

“I think our ball pressure we had on them was big,” Daniel said. “We did a really nice job on our press, rotating and filling gaps.”

It was a disappointing night for the Mohawks, who were coming off a season-opening win over Elmwood.

“I think mentally we just weren’t into the game,” St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith said. “Hopewell-Loudon played hard – they got every scrap ball, every loose ball and we didn’t. From a coaching standpoint, it didn’t make any difference what we said. It was like we were just floating out there in space.”

The Chieftains scored the last eight points of the first quarter as Brooke Arbogast had a three-point play, Courtney Burns hit a 3-pointer and then Arbogast scored off a rebound for a 19-11 lead.

Seniors Burns and Daniel scored 11 and 10, respectively, while freshmen Arbogast and Feindel added 11 and eight to spark the balanced H-L attack.

But St. Wendelin narrowed the lead to 25-24 at the half, and when Makenzie McAfee hit a 3-pointer and Allie Rutter scored inside to start the third period, the Mohawks had a 29-25 advantage.

The Chieftains, behind six Burns foul shots, outscored SW 10-2 the rest of the quarter to regain the upper hand.

“I thought we were set the second half,” Smith said. “We got up four, I thought we had settled down. But it was like Coach (Roger) Holman said, we had absolutely no mental game tonight.

“You can’t run anything when you’re throwing the ball away every five seconds,” he said. “We were throwing the ball to places where there wasn’t even a girl there to catch the ball.”

Rutter led St. Wendelin scorers with 15 points, including a 3-pointer. The 6-foot-3 Troike, who had 24 points and 23 rebounds in the Elmwood win, added 13 points and 20 boards Friday.

“We knew Kam was going to give us all kinds of trouble inside,” Rod Daniel said. “I’m happy she only had 13. I would have guessed she had a lot more.

“This is the most excited I’ve been in a while. We’ve not been able to play at this tempo because we’ve been big the last two years,” he said. “But with the youth we have and the quickness we have, it’s going to be real exciting to watch if we can keep going like that.”

For the moment, the big thing is that first home win is in the book.