Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wood River opens season with close loss

Wolverines get nipped, 29-27

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River girls basketball team lost a close opener to its season Monday night when it traveled to Kimberly.

Wood River (0-1) took on the Kimberly Bulldogs(1-0) without starting point guard Kaitana Martinez who will be out until January with a knee injury. Haylee Thompson led Wood River in scoring and in rebounds, but it wasn't enough, as Wood River lost, 29-27.

Thompson, fresh off signing her letter of intent to play at Utah State, finished the game while leading Wood River with 13 points and eight rebounds.

The Wolverines played like a team that was without an experienced point guard. Coach Kevin Stilling, filling in for Mendy Benson, said six players handled real minutes at the varsity level for the first time.

Despite the inexperience and the rough edges, Wood River still managed to lose by only two points.

Leading for most of the first half, Wood River played defense that was one aspect of its game that held up to the challenge.

"We had great team defense," Stilling emphasized.

Wood River owned the boards down low, winning the rebound battle 28-11. If Wood River is to manage without Martinez at the helm, winning the rebounding battle will be crucial.

The game went back and forth, and Wood River found itself down by only two at halftime. According to Stilling, however, there are a lot of kinks to be worked out.

"We had great effort," Stilling said. "We just had a problem with execution. We have a lot of areas to improve on."

One of those areas is finishing layups and free throws. Stilling said there were a lot of missed layups, which didn't help the cause. Wood River's poor free throw shooting also played a factor.

The Bulldogs had a better free-throw percentage by going 11 for 18 from the charity stripe, but Wood River only went 6 for 11. It's not hard to imagine that if Wood River shot better at the free-throw line, the Wolverines would have gone home with the victory.

"If we don't hit our free throws and easy layups, we won't win very often," Stilling said.

There is a whole season yet to be played, and the kinks may find their way to becoming worked out. Wood River plays Filer to open the home-court season Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. The junior varsity game will be at 5:30 p.m.

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