BY SCOTT COTTOS
KANSAS — Lakota’s Samantha Wallace said she was quite haunted by having made only two of her previous eight free throws when she went to the stripe in a clutch situation in Wednesday night’s nonconference girls basketball game against Van Buren.
“I just walked up to the line like nothing had happened before and lined up and said I was going to make these free throws,” the 5-foot-6 senior point guard said.
Indeed, she nailed both attempts to give her team a five-point lead with 1:07 to play, and the Raiders went on to claim a 52-43 victory.
“I put my head to it and made sure I made the two free throws that counted in the end,” Wallace said.
The Black Knights turned the ball over on their next possession, leading to an Alexa Gabel inside score off a Brooke Shank feed.
Shank finished things off with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds to go as Lakota upped its record to 2-1.
“It feels really good,” said Wallace, who finished with a game- and career-high 21 points. “We had a hard loss (to New Riegel) on Saturday, so we wanted to come back as a team and get a good win. It felt really good.”
The final margin accounted for an 18-point turnaround, as the Raiders trailed 39-30 when Van Buren’s Zoe Horne drilled her third 3-pointer in a one-minute span 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Lakota coach Cathy Hanek liked how her club stood up against an adverse situation.
“I thought we played really hard,” she said. “I thought when we found ourselves down there in a hole, we didn’t fold. We stayed in the game, made a couple of plays and the tide kind of shifted and we were, obviously, hold that lead after we got it. I was happy with how we responded. Obviously, we could have panicked and we didn’t do that.”
The Raiders’ rally came after Horne literally played around-the-world in a 1:17 stretch of time. The 5-7 junior connected from behind the 3-point stripe from the left and right wings in the final minute of the third period before her third trey gave the Black Knights their biggest lead of the game.
Horne finished with 12 points for Van Buren, all on 3-pointers.
Lakota drew into a 41-41 tie on Katelyn Klotz’s 3-pointer — her only basket of the night — and later went ahead when Alexa Gabel hit two free throws with 2:51 left.
Mady Parker, who led Van Buren (1-2) with 15 points, split a pair of free throws for a 43-43 tie with 2:21 to go. Wallace then let fly from just left of the top of the key and cashed in the triple for a 46-43 lead with 2:03 to play, about a minute before she extended the Raiders’ advantage from the free-throw line.
“It felt good,” Wallace said of knocking down her third trey of the night. “I got a good pass and I was like, ‘I’m ready to put this in and get on top and help win this game.'”
First-year Black Knights coach Carly Clum said executing the details of the game are still a work in progress for her club.
“Throughout this year, it’s just all about taking baby steps,” she said. “We’re working hard and right now we’re hanging tough just, like, 80 percent of the time, and we need 100 percent. We’re working toward it — we’re working hard in practice, we’re doing all the little things. We’ve just got to incorporate that into our game plan.
“We just, sometimes, won’t box out, we won’t close out, we won’t do the little things. We’ve just got to stay on those little things.”
Gabel and Shank followed Wallace with eight points apiece for Lakota, with Gabel also snagging eight rebounds. Aliza Dauterman’s 12 rebounds led the Raiders to a 33-22 advantage on the boards. Maddy King made three steals.
Van Buren’s Agnes Durliat tallied six points and six rebounds. Breanna Tabler passed for five assists and Mackenzie Saltman made four steals.
van buren (1-2)
Tabler 1-0–2, Reinhart 2-0–4, Saltzman 1-0–2, Durliat 3-0–6, Parker 6-2–15, Horne 4-0–12, F. DeWalt 0-0–2, Rinehart 1-0–2. TOTALS: 18-50 3-12 — 43.
Klotz 1-0–3, Shank 2-4–8, Wallace 7-4–21, Gabel 2-4–8, King 2-0–6, Palos 0-1–1, Dauterman 1-3–5. TOTALS: 15 16-25 — 52.
Van Buren 15 8 13 7 — 43
Lakota 10 15 5 22 — 52
3-Point GOALS: Van Buren 4-10 (Horne 3, Parker 1); Lakota 6 (Wallace 3, King 2, Klotz 1).
rebounds: Van Buren 22 (Durliat 6); Lakota 33 (Dauterman 12).
turnovers: Van Buren 15; Lakota 15.
junior varsity: Van Buren, 40-19.