Undefeated Nighthawks soaking up success
TRIPP -- As the second half of the Class B girls basketball season continues, just two undefeated teams remain. There's No. 2-ranked Sanborn Central/Woonsocket, which -- following a third-place finish at the state tournament a year ago -- was con...
TRIPP - As the second half of the Class B girls basketball season continues, just two undefeated teams remain.
There’s No. 2-ranked Sanborn Central/Woonsocket, which -- following a third-place finish at the state tournament a year ago -- was considered one of the stronger teams entering the season and the Blackhawks are 11-0.
And the other team has to be considered a surprise, as Tripp-Delmont/Armour also stands undefeated and has done it without a senior on the roster.
The Nighthawks, who had 11 total wins a year ago, already have reached that mark this season at 11-0 with nine more regular season games to go.
The program has been on a slow rise under fourth-year head coach Kristi Allen, who said the team has been buying into the team’s goals defensively and sharing the ball.
“It’s started with our defense and our ability to share the ball on offense,” Allen said. “We’ve had players step up and play in roles that we need to keep winning.”
The Nighthawks had seasons of six, nine and 11 wins in the first three seasons under Allen. Last year’s campaign ended at 11-11, as Tripp-Delmont/Armour reached the District 12B championship game, falling 43-37 to Platte-Geddes at the Corn Palace.
“I think this past offseason, we had a lot of confidence coming off of our season and reaching the district title game,” Allen said. “These girls have been together for a couple of years now, they’ve spent a lot of time together in the offseason. They worked hard this past summer and they were ready to go when the season started.”
Getting back to that district championship game is the goal for sophomore Mattilynn Reiner.
“Our goal is to get back there,” she said. “Whatever happens from there happens but that’s where we want to be.”
Reiner, who has played since she was in seventh grade for the Nighthawks, is the team’s unquestioned leader, averaging 19.2 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per contest and shooting 52 percent for the season. In the team’s 11 games so far this season, Reiner has pulled down eight double-doubles, including a 21-point, 16-rebound win over Parkston in December. On Saturday, as the Nighthawks moved to 11-0 in a home win over Gayville-Volin, she had 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
“She would be your definition of a gym rat,” Allen said. “She works hard and that brings everyone else on this team up, too.”
Aside from Reiner, TDA has three other players averaging double-figure scoring. Brooklyn Brouwer is averaging 12.1 points per game and fellow junior Erica Koster averages 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest. Freshman Kianna Payer is also averaging 11.1 points per game.
“We’re a group that trusts each other and that comes from working hard in the offseason and playing together for a long time,” Reiner said.
So far, the Nighthawks have been quite convincing in victory. They’ve had just two games decided by less than 10 points and have won by an average of 22 points per game.
But now, TDA approaches the strongest part of its schedule. After a game at Burke/South Central on Jan. 27, they will face No. 1-ranked Ethan in Armour on Jan. 31. Also on the calendar in February is Class A foe Wagner and two of the stronger teams in Class B: Freeman and Region 6B rival Avon, both of which are receiving consideration in this week’s poll.
As of Monday, only two of the 11 teams TDA has defeated has had a winning record.
“It’s going to get tougher,” Allen said. “We know that but we know if we play the way we can, we’re going to be in those games.”
The Nighthawks are taking it one game at a time, Allen said, not focusing on their record but instead relishing a bit of success after some tougher years.
“When you’ve struggled for a while, once you get that taste of success, you’re thankful for each game and winning instead of losing,” Allen said. “We’re just soaking it up and trying to get better and better because we know we haven’t reached our full potential. But we’re hoping that in one short month, we’ll be there.”