WINONA LAKE – Grace College public address announcer Paul DeRenzo made a ‘welcome home’ notation for a pair of Indiana Wesleyan stars Wednesday night during the women’s basketball pregame.
The two acted like it was the old days.
Dayton Groninger and Anne Secrest made names for themselves as superstars in Kosciusko County as prep stars at Warsaw and Tippecanoe Valley high schools, respectively. The two were up to their old tricks as teammates in some big moments during a 66-62 win at Grace.
Secrest, who had a penchant of doing the dirty work and getting the job done any way possible during a tremendous run for Valley, did so when IWU really needed it. Secrest had a pair of big layups down the stretch in the fourth quarter, her second one with 11 seconds to go iced the game, putting IWU up four.
Secrest finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and a block.
Groninger made some big plays down the stretch, as well. After Grace captured the lead, 50-47, on a bucket by Vironnica Drake, Groninger spotted up and nailed a three to tie the game at 50 with 6:57 to go. Grace again led late, but Groninger once again found a shot she liked from deep and nailed it to give the Wildcats a 58-56 lead with 2:24 to go. IWU wouldn’t trail the remainder of the contest.
Groninger added 13 points and six rebounds.
“We didn’t finish,” said Grace College head coach Dan Davis. “We did a good job boxing out over the course of the game, then late we didn’t get it done and they get the offensive rebound and putback that killed us. You have to finish the play.”
All nine of Wesleyan’s players seeing the floor scored at least three points. Gabby Suarez scored nine points, six of those in the final 1:48 of the game.
The Wildcats hit 10-22 from three-point range in the game and won the rebounding battle 41-37.
Grace, its bread and butter the three-point shot, couldn’t find any streaks from deep in going 9-36 (25 percent) from behind the arc. Grace’s bombers – Drake, Kyannah Stull and Kamryn Hostetler – were a combined 6-27 from range. Grace came into the night making 10 threes per night, and while it hit nine, it couldn’t catch fire down the stretch.
“We left too many points on the floor tonight, not finishing bunnies and missing too many threes,” Davis said. “In games when you feel off, you have to find ways to score some points to win a game. Maybe it’s a defensive play that sparks a fast break, or hitting a wide open three. We had one or two of those moments, but couldn’t make them happen often enough.”
Drake led the Lancers with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists and Stull had 10 points, but was held to eight below her average. Hostetler was held to just six points on a frigid 2-13 shooting night.
Micaela Box added nine points and three rebounds and Brooke Treadway added some juice late with her seven points.
The Lancers (14-7) lose just its second home game of the season (8-2) and fall to 5-4 in the Crossroads League standings, looking up at IWU (15-6), which moves to 6-3 in the standings.
“Right now we just have to refocus and come back tomorrow and get better,” offered Davis. “We know we have some work to do, and Marian isn’t going to feel sorry for us Saturday. We have to pick it up and get back after it.”