EMMA — Many directions of thought emerged from the 64-41 win by Wawasee in its annual girls basketball lid lifter with Westview.
If you asked Westview head coach Randy Yoder what happened Friday night, his club was playing an Indiana University team led by Steve Alford. If you asked Wawasee head coach Kem Zolman, his team performed unlike it had all preseason. If you asked KiLee Knafel, who scored a career-high 42 points, she had nothing to do with any of it.
“It was like we were playing against Steve Alford tonight the way (Knafel) shot the ball, my goodness,” quipped Yoder in the hallway just north of the gymnasium where Knafel poured in her monster night. “A lot of her shots, I thought we had a hand in her face. She is almost deceiving, not overly quick, but in a sense she has a knack of getting her shot off.”
Knafel, who recently signed a letter of intent to continue her basketball career next fall at Indiana University South Bend, started out quietly, but by halftime had 19 points on 7-11 shooting, including four threes.
As Knafel hit a basket to put Wawasee up 35-23 early in the third quarter, Westview made its only real noise of the second half. A three-pointer by Sidney Byrkett cut the lead to nine and held Wawasee on its next possession. But five turnovers in a three-minute stretch, highlighted by five consecutive points by Cassie Martinez, put Wawasee up 44-28 and well out of reach.
Knafel, however, was just heating up. The senior nailed a three to open the fourth quarter on her way to seven treys and 17 made field goals. Knafel also had six steals and three rebounds in the game where it was evident that no one was going to stop her.
“It’s all one team, this is a big game for everyone,” insisted Knafel, donning glittery pink boots but deflecting any additional attention. “I give all the credit to them. I scored the points, but I could not have done that without them. Kylee Rostochak had some great screens that helped me get open.”
Maria McCoy led Westview with 13 points and eight rebounds to lead a side that had eight players score, but the home-sided Lady Warriors committed 27 turnovers to just 10 for Wawasee.
Wawasee held just a 6-4 lead after the first quarter but opened a 28-13 lead in the second quarter behind a 15-point quarter by Knafel.
“I thought in the third quarter we just got more solid defensively, that just wears on you after a while,” said Zolman. “I think for us beginning the season with that kind of defensive effort puts a whole lot of confidence building for us. I was just really excited for us on the defensive end.”
Erin Wiktorowski led Wawasee with six assists and the guard tandem of Elizabeth Jackson and Lexy Blunk combined for seven rebounds, seven steals, six points and four assists.
Westview’s JV team jumped out quickly on Wawasee, building a 13-6 lead after one quarter and outscoring Wawasee 11-2 in the second stanza of a 44-24 victory. Riley Hochstetler led Westview with 15 points and eight steals while Natalie Jones netted nine points for Wawasee.