Coming off an impressive week that saw the Wauseon Lady Indians record a pair of lopsided victories over Defiance and Liberty Center, the team traveled west down State Route 2 for a Tuesday night, January 15th non-league match up against the Stryker Lady Panthers. The game featured the Lady Indians’ swarming full court press and suffocating man to man defense versus the guard play of Stryker’s Connor Sullivan and Conner Varner.
With their home fans urging them on, Lady Panthers jumped out to an early 4-3 lead following Varner’s baseline drive. Wauseon turned the ball over on their next possession and center Hannah Doerhmann fed a cutting Varner for the score and traditional three point play after a Lady Indian foul. Varner followed with a hook shot a few seconds later and Stryker claimed their largest lead of the night at 9-3.
Maddie Richer’s dribble drive put an end to the Lady Panther 7-0 run and then Wauseon’s full court pressure forced a Stryker turnover. Alyssa Reed then slashed through the lane to the basket and drew a foul. She split the free throws and Wauseon trailed by one point at 9-8. Stryker broke through the Lady Indian press on their next possession resulting in a 3 on 1 jailbreak to the Wauseon basket. Annette Stidham fouled Stryker’s Christie Huston on her drive to the basket and Huston hit one of two free throws to push the lead back to two at 10-8. Point guard Haley Archibeque threaded a bounce pass through the Lady Panther 2-3 zone to Sydney Chamberlain for an easy basket and tied the game at 10.
Archibeque then put Wauseon back on top with a steal and basket. The Lady Indians had a golden opportunity to push the lead out to four at the end of the quarter when Reed was fouled behind the three point arc with less than a second to go. But the senior was only able to convert one of three free throws and Wauseon led 15-13 after one quarter.
Varner, red hot in the first quarter with 10 points, kicked off the second quarter with a put back basket of a Connor Sullivan misfire to tie the game at 15. The Lady Indians regained the lead when Chamberlain found Reed open underneath for the score and a held ball call gave the ball back to Wauseon and resulted in another Reed score. The defense then turned up the intensity a couple notches. Following an Emily Rupp basket for Stryker, the Lady Indians crashed the boards hard and dug out four shots at the offensive end before Stidham finally banked the ball in to make it 21-17 Wauseon. The defensive pressure forced a Lady Panther turnover and Chamberlain fed Stidham inside for another basket to increase the lead to six. Sariah Yackee added a free throw with just over four minutes to go in the quarter and the Lady Indians posted their largest lead of the night at 24-17. Reed finished off an impressive 12 point first half by knocking down a pair of free throws to give Wauseon a 31-21 halftime advantage.
Stryker drew first blood in the second half on Connor Sullivan’s basket but the Lady Indians again turned up the defensive heat and made life difficult for the Lady Panthers. Yackee ignited a Wauseon 10-0 run with a 3 pointer and Maddie Richer’s steal on the next Lady Panther possession led to an Alyssa Reed free throw and a 35-23 Wauseon lead. Haley Archibeque’s sleight of hand swiped the ball from a Lady Panther and she drove it in for another two points. Reed then forced a Stryker turnover- but she missed her shot. Archibeque stole the ball right back and hit the layup to give Wauseon a 39-23 lead. She added a three pointer with just over two minutes in the third quarter to give the Lady Indians their biggest lead of the game at 45-26. However, the Lady Panthers refused to give up and they rallied back behind Maddie Uribes’s free throw, Christie Huston’s three pointer, Sullivan’s jumper, and Hannah Doerhmann’s free throw in the final minutes of the quarter to cut the Wauseon advantage to twelve at 45-33.
The Lady Indians continued to push forward in the final period and Natalie Koenig’s three point bomb made it 52-37 with six minutes to go. Stryker tried to claw their way back into the game behind Conner Varner’s nine fourth quarter points – the final two cutting the lead to nine, 53-44, with just over two minutes to play. Archibeque, Yackee and Reed all hit key free throws in the final two minutes and when the final buzzer sounded, Wauseon won a 61-46 victory.
Alyssa Reed led the Lady Indians with 18 points on the night. Haley Archibeque chipped in with 13 points and Sariah Yackee scored 10. Annette Stidham added 8 points, Maddie Richer 7, Natalie Koenig 3, and Sydney Chamberlain contributed 2.
Archibeque also played a huge part on the defensive end nabbing several steals on the night. Along with Richer, Koenig, Reed and Yackee, the Lady Indians attacked Stryker’s guards bringing the ball upcourt in wave after wave to create a multitude of turnovers that led to easy Wauseon baskets.
Stryker’s Conner Varner led all scorers with 24 points.
Wauseon improves to 9-4 on the year.
SCORING BY QUARTER
Wauseon 15 16 14 16 -61
Stryker 13 8 12 13 -46
By: J.D. Elder
THE WAUSEON and VILLAGE REPORTER