By SCOTT COTTOS
VAN BUREN — The tide may be turning in favor of Van Buren’s girls basketball team.
The Black Knights won only four games last season. Now, still a young team, they’re 3-2 after Wednesday night’s 55-49 nonconference victory over Lakota.
“It feels great,” sophomore Mady Parker said after pumping in 27 points to lead Van Buren. “Last year, it was kind of a sad season. But this year it feels absolutely amazing to have a winning record so far.
Parker said this season’s team has a different feeling about it.
“We’re just full of energy,” she said. “We’re full of intensity and we’re playing with heart and it’s something we all need to do to keep this up.”
Fourth-year coach Shawn Ginnan said a spirit of competition has been emphasized to this year’s club.
“The biggest thing we’ve stressed is we need to play and compete more and show more energy and more passion,” he said. “We miss a lot of shots and we know that. We’re not a very good shooting basketball team. But if we keep getting opportunities because we’re causing turnovers or getting loose balls, good things will happen.”
Lakota (1-2) made a couple of runs at the Black Knights in the second half, but it could never take retake the lead, which it last held at 15-13 in the second period.
The Raiders, who were led by Samantha Wallace’s 17 points, rallied from a 27-19 second-quarter deficit to trim Van Buren’s lead to 33-31 in the third period. The Raiders then went from trailing 45-35 in the fourth quarter to being down just 50-46 with 1:29 left.
The Knights survived the threat each time.
“We just made a few too many mistakes that were really unforced mistakes,” said second-year Lakota coach Cathy Hanek, whose team turned the ball over 20 times to just 12 for Van Buren. “We just had a hard time getting back and taking the lead again.”
Aliza Dauterman made a pair of free throws to get Lakota to within 50-46. Parker replied almost immediately with two free throws of her own. Then, after the Raiders missed on two shots on their next possession, Parker scored from close range for a 54-46 advantage. She then split a pair of free throws with 32.8 second remaining, and the Black Knights held on from there.
“It felt great to get the win out there,” said Parker, who went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. “I couldn’t have (scored my points) without my teammates. I just think we really worked hard tonight. They all helped me achieve those points, and we all worked really well together tonight.”
Zoe Horne came off the bench to score 11 points for Van Buren, which also got eight points and 10 rebounds from Sydney Leeper.
The Black Knights, as they will the rest of the season, played without Lydia Reineke, a senior post player who suffered a torn ACL in a recent practice.
“We all have to make up for the points that she gave us,” Parker said.
Dauterman and freshman Alexa Gabel followed Wallace with eight points apiece for Lakota.
Feathers 3-0–6, Shank 1-1–3, Wallace 7-1–17, Dauterman 1-6″”8, King 1-0–2, Biddle 0-0″”0, Klotz 1-0″”3, Gabel 4-0″”8, Palos 0-0–0. TOTALS: 18 10-17 — 49.
VAN BUREN (3-2)
Saltzman 0-1–1, Parker 10-7–27, F. DeWalt 1-0–2, Leeper 3-2–8, Nessler 0-0–0. Stacy 0-0–0, Horne 3-4–11, Rosenberger 0-4–4. TOTALS: 18-49 18″”31 — 55.
Lakota 12 10 11 16 — 49
Van Buren 13 14 12 16 — 55
3-Point GOALS: Lakota 3 (Wallace 2, Klotz 1); Van Buren 1-2 (Horne 1).
rebounds: Lakota 38; Van Buren 26 (Leeper 10).
turnovers: Lakota 20; Van Buren 12.
junior varsity: Van Buren, 25-3.