By Kyle LoJacono
The Freedom girls basketball team won its Class 7A-District 9 opener Nov. 29 at Chamberlain 77-30.
The Patriots (4-0, 1-0) started a bit slowly, missing their first two shots and first four free throws, but closed out the first quarter leading 22-7 and entered halftime ahead 50-15.
Freedom’s 35-point lead forced a running clock the entire second half. The Patriots have forced such shortened games in every contest this season and are beating teams by an average of 77.5-25.5.
“When we were on tonight, that’s the intensity we need to play with for 32 minutes,” said Freedom coach Laurie Pacholke. “We were looking inside, hitting from the outside and taking advantage of all of our strengths. We had some letdowns, and we have to learn not to play to the scoreboard when we’re up big.”
Senior forward Faith Woodard said they aren’t where they want to be, but added they’re showing improvement each game.
“We’re getting a lot better at using what we do in practice,” Woodard said. “We had good ball rotation, our bench scored, so I definitely see improvement.”
Woodard had 20 points and six steals. Sophomore guard Taylor Emery had 17 points and senior forwards Ashle Thompson and Lauren Repp added eight and six, respectively.
Everyone on Freedom’s roster got into the contest, including freshman Nari Garner who had 11 points.
“Nari really stepped up and played well,” Pacholke said. “A couple of the other freshmen, we need to get some minutes under them in these situations. … You’re only as strong as your weakest player, and you never know when that 13th player is going to need to come on the court.”
The Patriots pulled down 26 rebounds, including eight from Emery and five from Repp. “Lauren is probably our smartest basketball player,” Pacholke said. “She knows where to be and where the basketball is going to go. She is the type of kid who does the dirty work. She doesn’t do the things that show up on the stat sheets, but keeps us in ball games.”
Junior guard Bella Gibson had four rebounds, three steals and three assists. Senior guard Neena Pacholke had five assists and three steals.
The Freedom boys (1-1, 0-1) came just short of knocking off the defending district champion Chamberlain (2-0, 1-0), falling 45-44. The Patriots had a 3-pointer in the air to win, but it hit off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Both Patriots squads hosted Hillsborough Dec. 3, but results were not available by press time. Freedom plays at home against Middleton Dec. 5 and district rival Gaither Dec. 7. The boys games start at 6:30 p.m. with the girls contests following at about 8 p.m.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker