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Published: February 11, 2010 11:33 pm  

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings win big on senior night

By Brandon Koch
Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — Grand Island girls basketball coach Jenepher Banker made a daring decision Thursday night when she substituted senior forward Kristin Wegrzyn into the game with 1:25 remaining in a fourth quarter matchup against Lew-Port.

As a result, the crowd at Grand Island High School erupted with applause when the injured forward limped onto the court.

Lo and behold, the Vikings weren’t in any need of offensive production, as they were well on their way to clinching a 64-33 victory over the Lancers.

Before tip-off, Lew-Port coach Matt Bradshaw offered to get Wegrzyn on the court in her final regular-season home game on senior night, despite being sidelined with a torn ACL. Wegrzyn was quickly given the ball, fouled and put on the charity stripe where she hit one of two shots in roughly 12 seconds of playing time.

“That’s what you want to do for a kid like that, for a family like that,” Bradshaw said.

Point guard Kallie Banker paced Grand Island (10-3 in NFL) with 20 points, while senior captain Mary Scherrer posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards. However, it was until midway through the third quarter that the Vikings fully hit their stride offensively.

The Lancers defense held Grand Island’s high-powered attack to just a 24-12 lead at halftime.

“They played a nice first half,” said Banker of Lew-Port (6-7 in NFL). “So I was happy with our kids that they came out in the second half and played a little better defense.”

Early in the third, though, the Lancers stormed out to an 11-4 run behind forward Ashley DeLuca’s team-high 11 points, closing the deficit to within five with four minutes remaining.

“I can’t be more proud of my kids how they came out at halftime,” Bradshaw said. “They cut the lead down to five with four minutes to go in the third quarter, but all of a sudden the floodgates opened up.”

Indeed, they did. The Vikings stormed right back, executing much better in the defensive transition, Banker said.

“Well that has been a key of ours recently — defensive transition — and we didn’t do a great job of that in the first half so we talked about that at halftime about doing a better job in defensive transition,” she said.

In addition, the Lancers had no answer for Grand Island’s threats down low — Scherrer, as well as forward Cassie Oursler, who dropped 19 points in addition to collecting 13 rebounds.

“I don’t know what the offensive rebounds were but after that a light switch went on and they just went after every ball on the offensive end and they got it,” Bradshaw said. “That’s really what decided it.”

Lew-Port was unable to find an answer on the defensive end, as well as on offense where they were unable to finish, Bradshaw added.

“We got shots, we got great shots, but instead of being down maybe four and making free throws at the end of the first half we’re down 12, when I thought we should have been down two,” he said.