Shorthanded Van Buren girls roll past Comets
KEOSAUQUA — With three starters nearly 1,000 miles from home on a school trip to Washington, D.C., Tuesday, the Van Buren girls were in need of big games from their two remaining starters.
Senior Hanna Haynes and sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson didn’t disappoint.
The two Warrior starters combined to score all but 12 of their team’s points to lift Van Buren to a 55-40 victory over Cardinal in Southeast Iowa Super Conference South division action in Keosauqua.
“It was a two-woman show,” said Matt Zeitler, Van Buren’s head coach. “They were very efficient with what they did, and the young kids came out and played pretty good in the first quarter.”
Haynes scored 25 points to go with 22 rebounds, 10 blocks, seven assists and five steals for one of her best games to date, while Johnson scored 18 points off five 3s with eight assists.
The Warriors, who were without seniors Payten Hughes and Jordan Billups as well as junior Abbey Rider, led wire-to-wire thanks to the two big performances.
Van Buren opened up the game on a 7-0 run and quickly led 20-7 after the first quarter thanks to a trio of 3s from Johnson. The Warriors stayed up by double digits for much of the final three periods, though Cardinal cut Van Buren’s lead to 33-27 early in the second half on three straight scores from Cardinal senior Lindsay Moore.
The Warriors answered scoring six of the third quarter’s final nine points, then held a commanding lead for the final eight minutes.
Although it was a loss for Cardinal, first-year head coach Aaron Dose liked the improvement he saw compared to his team’s first matchup with Van Buren Dec. 11. The Comets lost that game 62-28.
“We played a lot harder tonight. The defense had some good intensity tonight for us,” said Dose. “We’ve improved a lot throughout the year ... still improving.”
Dose is still looking for the young Comets to put together their first “complete” game of the season.
“Hopefully we have a game where our defense and our offense click at the same time,” said Dose. “If we have a night where we’re playing defense that well and then we shoot well, I think we’ll be a pretty solid team by the end of the year.”
Moore, who averages nearly 17 points per game, scored another 15 in Tuesday’s game and was a big reason why Cardinal never got too far behind.
“Big-time players make big-time plays. When we need one, that’s where we go,” said Dose. “She’s very consistent on the offensive end, and she’s aggressive no matter who she’s playing.”
Cardinal’s Delaney Ridgway totaled 10 points to go with 10 boards for a double-double, and Jessie McElderry and Danae Moses each scored six.
Also for Van Buren, freshmen Libby King scored four points and Sidney Atwood added three. Junior Tayt Wiebel pulled down three boards.
Zeitler said the game was a good learning experience for his younger players.
“These kids are getting a lot of valuable experience. If anything, these minutes will help us down the tournament trail,” he said.
The Warriors (13-4, 11-3 SEISC South) are at Holy Trinity on Friday. Cardinal (6-10, 6-9) travels to Danville Thursday.