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Defense leads MCHS girls over Kimball/White Lake

Aaron Saunders/Republic Mitchell Christian's Brittany Zoss looks to drive past a Kimball/White Lake defender during a high school basketball game Thursday at Mitchell Christian School.

The Mitchell Christian girls' basketball team's defense rose to the occasion.

The Eagles forced 34 turnovers en route to a 44-34 victory over Kimball/White Lake Thursday at Mitchell Christian School.

"We are just so proud of these girls. They played the defensive game of their lives," Mitchell Christian head coach Jackie Van Laecken said.

The WiLdKats and Eagles were locked in a defensive struggle in the first half, which saw neither team crack the 15-point barrier. By half's end, the score was 14-13 with Mitchell Christian leading.

That defensive struggle turned into an offensive clinic in the second half, when the Eagles switched to a full-court press.

"The girls knew the third quarter was going to be a big quarter, so they knew they had to come out and go hard," Van Laecken said. "You have to come out with something different every time and just to catch them off guard. The girls just came out on fire and ready to go."

Mitchell Christian took control in the third quarter after a series of steals by Alexa Van Laecken and Khiree Held led to easy layups. Van Laecken finished the game with seven steals and Held had five.

"Once they got a few steals back to back, they went on a little run," Kimball/White Lake head coach Brooke Hermsen said. "They did a good job of getting in some passing lanes, but we have to get more disciplined with the basketball, and there is no doubt that we have to eliminate the turnovers."

The Eagles spent much of the fourth quarter protecting that lead with clutch free-throw shooting. MCHS guard Becca Glanzer went 5-for-9 from the foul line and led all scorers with 21 points.

"Free throws win games and free throws lose games, and the girls know when they get to the line they have to make the most of it," Van Laecken said.

The WiLdKats were led by Maria Nightingale, who recorded a double-double. The senior center tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Kimball/White Lake (1-2) takes on Dakota Christian at 6:30 p.m. Monday in White Lake in its next action. Mitchell Christian faces Andes Central at 6:30 p.m. today in Lake Andes.

Mitchell Christian 44

Kimball/White Lake 34

MCHS (3-0)

Alexa Van Laecken 4 3-7 12, Becca Glanzer 7 5-9 21, Brittany Zoss 1 0-0 2, Emily Reynen 1 0-0 2, Khiree Held 2 1-1 5, Ashley Glanzer 0 0-0 0, Lindsay Thompson 0 0-0 0, Abbie Reynen 1 0-0 2, Taylor Krall 0 0-0 0, Destiny Reimitz 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 9-17 44.

KWL (2-2)

Mary Kroupa 1 0-0 2, Hailey Mohnen 3 0-0 8, Jazmyn Hinker 5 0-0 11, Maria Nightingale 4 5-5 13, Ivy Haines 0 0-0 0, Cassie Natvig 0 0-0 0, Paige Munsen 0 0-0 0, Whitney Hinker 0 0-0 0, Courtney Eimers 0 0-0 0, Kellie Steffen 0 0-0 0, Caylin Overweg 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Donald 0 0-0 0, Rose Konechne 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 5-5 34.

MCHS 10 14 34 44

KWL 2 13 22 34

3-Point Goals: MCS 3 (Glanzer 2, Van Laecken 1), KWL 3 (Mohnen 2, Hinker 1). Rebounds: MCS 28 (Van Laecken 8), KWL 27 (Nightingale 7). Assists: MCS 10 (Van Laecken 4), KWL 9 (Mohnen 3). Steals: MCS 19 (Van Laecken 7), KWL 11 (Nightingale 4).