Washington Evening Journal
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WACO girls fall short
Warriors struggle against Notre Dame, bow out in regional quarterfinals
WAYLAND — The WACO girls basketball team won 18 games in the 2022-23 season, but the Warriors just couldn’t seem to solve Southeast Iowa Super Conference rival Notre Dame.
Just two games after the Nikes held off WACO by six points at the SEISC shootout, the Warriors welcomed in Notre Dame for the Class 1A Region 8 quarterfinals, but a frustrating night on both ends led to a 57-41 Nike victory.
The trouble started from the drop, as Notre Dame built a 14-6 lead in the first quarter before WACO’s Shanae Riley nailed a 3-pointer in the final minute to cut the lead to 14-9.
In the second period, Notre Dame started to wear on WACO inside. The Nikes built their lead to 29-18 at halftime, and Warrior star Ellah Kissell had just two points at the break.
“We just needed better ball movement,” said WACO head coach Lisa Graber. “We needed to get it on a reversal or something and get the defense to shift.”
WACO continued to have troubles on the offensive end, but the Warriors did get a spark at the end of the third. Down 39-26 with just 40 seconds left, Kissell knocked down a deep 3-pointer, and then sank a pull up 3 on the ensuing possession with just 15 seconds left.
Notre Dame drew a foul in the final seconds of the third and led 41-32 at the end of the third, but the Warriors had finally found their groove.
WACO had it down to seven points a few minutes into the fourth. Back-to-back buckets from Katie Leichty and Kissell cut the lead to 46-39 with five minutes left. The Warriors got the ball back and had a chance to trim the deficit even further, but WACO turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, and Notre Dame hit a put-back layup on the other end, and the Warriors never got any closer.
“They shoot so well that it's hard to climb out of those holes,” said Graber. “Their threes add up quick, and I assume they beat us on the boards.”
Kissell wound up with 13 points in the loss. Leichty scored nine. Grace Coble had eight. Marie Farmer scored five. Emma Wagler had four, and Riley finished with three.
The Warriors finished the season 18-5. Notre Dame (18-6) will travel to No. 8 Winfield-Mount Union (20-1) this Friday.