Winning the SPIAA League Basketball Tournament is becoming a consistent thing for the South Central Timberwolves girls basketball team.
The Lady Timberwolves won their second straight with a 53-41 victory over the Kiowa County Mavericks Saturday night.
"I knew Kiowa County would play us tough," South Central head coach Tim Rietzke said. "Our effort wasn't too bad. Our execution wasn't very good. So I feel fortunate to get a win."
South Central junior Bri Rutherford led all scorers with 25 points Saturday night. Senior Rylee Alexander was second in scoring for South Central, with eight.
"Bri's a good player," Rietzke said. "She's a competitor, she came to our program last year. We're working really hard to get more discipline in her game but she('s) (going to) play, she's a competitor. She has to run our team, has to lead the team a little bit better, but she's still adjusting to that a little bit too."
She established herself early, hitting a 3-pointer about midway through the first quarter right over Kiowa County junior Brecken VandenHoek to make the score 7-2.
Despite that play, VandenHoek had a strong night, leading her team in points with 21.
"She's a good player," Rutherford said. "She has good defense, she can shoot the ball, she can drive. She's pretty good. I would not mind playing with her."
Kiowa County head coach Thomas Derstein said the first quarter, in which the Mavericks got outscored 14-7, was the biggest issue for the team.
"(I'm) really happy with the second, third and fourth quarters," Derstein said. "We played with 'em. We gave 'em a few easy layups at the end just because we were pressuring, but (if) you look at the scorebook, the second, third and four quarters were even. It's that first quarter and we need to come out more confident. I think we came out a little shell-shocked from the start, and it wasn't our defense."
Rutherford said she noticed the defense tightening down after the first quarter. Compared to last year, this team pressured her more.
"They played better defense than any other team has," Rutherford said.
This year's win, however, was actually less-meaningful to the team than last year's, Rutherford said.
"It meant more last year because we lost Taylor (Bayne) and we wanted to win for her, but it felt pretty good," Rutherford said. "She hurt her knee last year, so we wanted to win the Championship Game for her last year and then this year we wanted to win it with her."
Rutherford wasn't the only player to contribute to his team's success either, Rietzke said. Alexander may have had eight points, but she was one the stats didn't completely give credit to, Rietzke said.
"I thought Rylee Alexander and (senior) Kassadee Harris both made a lot of hustle-plays that helped us out," Rietzke said. "Some of our posts were in foul-trouble again. I thought we got some help off the bench from (junior) Tyra Snyder, so really it's a team effort. We've got a lot of things we've gotta clean up, need to get better at."
South Central - Harris 4, 0-0; Snyder 3, 0-0; Rutherford 25, 7-9; Peterson 0, 0-0; Moore 0, 0-0; Hackney 0, 0-0; Bayne 4, 0-0; Alexander 8, 2-2; McGuire 2, 2-2; Jellison 7, 3-6; Dale 0, 0-0,
Kiowa County - Powell 0, 0-0; Rhodes 0, 0-0, VandenHoek 21, 3-4; Davis 3, 2-1; Erickson 0, 0-0; Lingafelter 13, 4-5; Oberle 2, 2-4; Cecil 0, 0-0; Rhodes 0, 0-0; Ballard 0, 0-0; McVey 2, 2-2
South Central: 14, 14, 14, 11 -- 53
Kiowa County: 7, 12 9, 13 -- 41