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Sophomores make a stand

Engle, Walters save BCLUW against Gladbrook-Reinbeck in regional opener

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - BCLUW sophomore Chloe Walters (52) has her shot contested by Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Megan Cooley during the second half of Thursday’s Class 1A Region 2 first-round game in Conrad. Walters scored 15 points in the Comets’ 49-33 victory.

CONRAD — BCLUW isn’t a deep basketball team — girls’ coach Dave Lee has said as much. But when it matters, the duo of sophomores in the starting lineup for the Comets have stepped up and lifted the team’s play when it matters.

Thursday night’s 49-33 win over Gladbrook-Reinbeck was no exception.

Allison Engle and Chloe Walters were the difference-makers for the Comets Thursday, combining for 29 of the Comets’ 49 points and making their presence known on the defensive end of the floor as well. Walters had 15 points and Engle had 14.

Engle has grown into a role as the team’s leading ball-handler as the season has gone on, and Thursday she was setting the table often for Walters inside. Engle finished the game with four assists and seven steals.

“She’s just gotten better at leading the team and doing the things we need in order to make it happen,” Lee said.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - BCLUW sophomore Allison Engle (32) shoots in the lane in front of Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Brianna Strohbehn during the first half of Thursday’s regional game in Conrad.

After taking a couple minutes to score, BCLUW got off to a strong start, leading 11-4 after the first quarter and making life difficult for the Rebels offensively. Walters was having trouble finishing chances for the Comets, but her offensive rebounding gave BCLUW plenty of second-chance opportunities.

Lee said Walters had a tough day shooting but her presence down low was essential to the way the Comets want to play. He also commended the Rebels for their gameplan and how they were able to disrupt the BCLUW offense.

“I thought Bruce had his kids really prepared well tonight,” Lee said. “They did some nice things.”

The second quarter was all BCLUW early on, with the Rebels having to call timeout after falling behind 23-6. A 7-2 run to end the half kept Gladbrook-Reinbeck in striking distance at 25-13. In the third quarter, the score got within six multiple times as the Rebels forced turnovers and converted chances to stay in the game. The Comets were sweating.

However, it wasn’t enough to get the Rebels into the lead. In the fourth quarter, Engle took over and the defense of Payton Pekarek and Jade Hammers in the backcourt was enough to put the Comets into the second round of districts. Pekarek also chipped in 11 points. Katie Clark led the Rebels with 12 points.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Rebels coach Bruce Bailey rued the team’s missed opportunities.

“We came out and played really really well,” Bailey said. “We just couldn’t maintain it in the fourth. They’re a tough team to defend because they can shoot if you drop off of them.”

The Comets will play the winner of AGWSR and North Iowa on Feb. 18 in Ackley.

BCLUW 49, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 33

At Conrad

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

GLADBROOK-REINBECK (7-15) — Emma McClintock 0 0-0 0, Belen Ellenberger 2 2-4 6, Katie Clark 5 2-3 12, Brianna Strohbehn 0 0-0 0, Saari Kuehl 2 1-2 6, Megan Cooley 4 1-2 9. TOTALS 13 6-11 33.

BCLUW (15-8) — Payton Pekarek 3 3-3 11, Jade Hammers 1 0-0 2, Lizzie Garber 0 0-0 0, Allison Engle 5 1-2 14, Chloe Walters 8 1-5 15, Betula Messerly 3 0-0 7, Katie Hill 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19 5-12 49.

G-R 4 9 12 8 — 33

BCLUW 11 14 6 18 — 49

3-Point Goals–G-R 1 (Kuehl), BCLUW 6 (Engle 3, Pekarek 2, Messerly). Total Fouls–G-R 11, BCLUW 15. Fouled Out–none.