Friday, February 17, 2023

A Championship Battle on Senior Night

By Cody Morris

To conclude the regular seasons for each team, the Archie Whirlwinds journeyed south to take on the Rich Hill Tigers. The Lady Tigers would begin the varsity action on Senior Night. The Tigers have struggled ever since losing 3 players to knee injuries during the Archie Tournament. To tip off the action, we would see a great display of sportsmanship, as Clare Klinkisk was the lone senior for the Lady Tigers, and one of the Tigers that went down a few weeks ago with an injury, however, she would start the game, the last regular season start of her career, and the Lady Whirlwinds would allow her to catch the opening tip off under her own basket and score the opening bucket of the night uncontested. The Tigers then would allow the Whirlwinds an uncontested shot as well before subbing the injured Klinsick back out, and with an evened up score of 2-2, the contest would now be under way. The Whirlwinds would easily handle the Tigers the rest of the contest, finishing the game with a 48-31 victory over the injury laden Tigers. Kaitlyn Newport (junior) of Archie was the leading scorer of the game with 17 points, followed by the Mattingly sisters, Morgan finished with 15 while Keara contributed 14. Leading scorers for Rich Hill was Lanie Phelps with 11 and Maysi Miller with 10.

Up next, was a high stakes showdown featuring two talented ball clubs. If Rich Hill could defend home-court and walk away with a win, they would also be walking away with the title of Conference Champions, however, the Whirlwinds would try and throw a wrench in that plan, and force the Conference Champion title to be shared between the two teams with a win of their own. With the Senior Night festivities just concluding, and so much on the line, the game would tip off with emotions overflowing from the opening whistle. The opening quarter would see the intensity of the game take its toll on the Whirlwinds as Brunson Tenholder would pick up a technical foul after getting fouled on a made basket. This technical foul would send Dillon Coonce to the line, where would live for the rest of the night. At the conclusion of the first 8 minutes, the Tigers would lead 15-10. Rich Hill would continue to press the accelerator and come out scoring in the second quarter, and the Whirlwinds frustration would continue to build and lead to Brunson picking a second technical foul after committing a common foul on Dillon Coonce with 3:31 left in the first half. Following this foul, Coonce would go 3-4 from the line, and then grab his rebound and get fouled again, after scoring both of the following free throws, Coonce had secured a 5 point swing in the Tigers favor. With 2 technical fouls, Tenholder, by rule, would be disqualified from the rest of the contest. After an eventful half, the Tigers would lead 33-17. Rich Hill came out of the locker room continuing their momentous scoring, at one point leading by as much as 26 in the 3rd. Going into the 4th, the Tigers pretty much had the game in the bag, and would end the battle with a 75-60 win and the honor of WEMO Conference Champions. Rich Hill saw 4 different players with double digit scoring tallies, led by Dillon Coonce with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Coonce would find 18 of his 22 points from the free throw line, going 18-20 from the stripe. Zane Becker ended the night with 17 points, Brayden Chandler added 15 points, and Magal Chol-Case ended the night with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with his 3 blocks and 2 steals. The Whirlwinds were led in scoring by Ashton Cowan with 13 points, followed by Briar McIntire with 12 and Tristan Leeper with 11.

Each team will now set their sights on their District Tournaments. The Lady Tigers will come in as the 6 seed and take on the 3 seeded Appleton City Bulldogs in the first round, on February 21st at 8pm in Drexel. The Men have earned a bye for the first round as they go into post season play as the number 1 seed in their district. They will take on the winner of the (4) Appleton City Bulldogs and the (5) Hume Hornets who face off on February 20th at 5pm, in Drexel. The Bulldogs defeated the Hornets 58-48 in the opening game of the seasons. Rich Hill has racked 30+ point wins over both Hume and Appleton City during the regular season.

Archie Lady Whirlwinds will begin their District Tournament play as the number 1 seed, and will have a bye the opening round. They will take on the winner of (4) Concordia and (5) Crestridge. The Lady Whirlwinds District Tournament will be played at Crestridge. The Boys will also have the honor of the 1 seed, however, there is no bye on the boys side. The Whirlwinds will match-up against Frontier School of Excellence Charter on February 20th at 4pm, in Archie.

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