Thursday February 14, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Taylor Wolf helped key a forward-heavy lineup in Hamburg’s win over Iroquois to clinch a division title. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Much of Hamburg’s success can be attributed to a fast-paced style most associated with quality guard play, but a forward-heavy lineup has worked for the team just as well.
With first-place on the line against an experienced and athletic Iroquois team, the Bulldogs went big to outmatch the Chiefs inside and received equally big results.
Hamburg continued a near-perfect regular season by beating Iroquois for the second time this season, running away late in the game for a 55-37 win on Monday (Feb. 11). The Bulldogs won 42-39 the first time the teams met. Iroquois hadn’t lost a division game since.
“The beauty of our team is that we could go with a bigger or smaller lineup,” said Hamburg head coach Kelly Owens, whose team improved to 16-1 overall. “In some games, we’ve had to go with both. It’s nice to have that versatility.”
The Bulldogs got 37 points from a combination up front of Taylor Wolf, Kendra Quinn-Moultrie and Jordan Smith, who despite all being geared more toward the power forward position played on the floor together for much of the game.
“We knew this was the only thing standing between us and the division championship,” said Wolf, a senior captain. “It’s hard enough to beat a good team again and they’re a good team. We just felt like we had to one up them. If they were going to get one, we had to get two. We couldn’t let up. We had to finish on our opportunities.”
With the quality players it brought back this season, Iroquois looked to be the clear favorite to challenge what amounted to a less-experienced Hamburg for the ECIC II title.
But it seems the Bulldogs are not ready to give up that regular season division title just yet. Hamburg repeated as the ECIC II champion, and at 11-0 is on the verge of consecutive unbeaten seasons in division play. In 2010-11, Hamburg shared the division title with Williamsville East.
“We knew this was going to be a big game and (Iroquois) has got a lot of good players, so we’ve been preparing for this,” Owens said. “I thought we were ready to play. I told the girls before the game that I’m not nervous; I thought we matched up well with them. I knew if we came out and played our game, we’d come out on the winning end.
Hamburg used a 17-9 second quarter to take a seven-point lead into halftime. The Bulldogs never gave up the lead and finished the game outscoring Iroquois 23-9.
Quinn-Moultrie, a junior, scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half, getting open in the post and was fed the ball on some well-run set plays. Smith, who’s only a sophomore, scored eight of her 13 points in the second quarter, as she was a factor in the post and transition. Wolf finished with nine points and was a force underneath the basket despite guarding out on the perimeter for much of the game.
“Jordan played really well. She was big for us tonight,” Owens noted. “And Kendra got some position and sealed her girl off in the second half and I said, ‘she’s got her; we’ve got to keep feeding it, look to draw some fouls, look to get to the line.’ That seemed to work well for us and kind of get us some big points.”
Iroquois, which led 9-8 after the first quarter, got off to a quick start as Colleen Wirth scored 11 of her 13 points early on in the game.
“I think we started to get some intensity and fire (in the second quarter),” Owens said. “In the first quarter, we weren’t necessarily flat but we missed shots even though we had some good opportunities. We called a timeout and we talked about getting on a little run by getting our fast break going.”
After Hamburg extended its lead to 10, at 30-20 with five minutes left in the third quarter, Lauren Jensen (16 points) and Jenny Colvin knocked down consecutive threes to help Iroquois get within 32-28, but that was as close as it would get the rest of the way. The Chiefs fell to 11-5 overall and 8-2 in ECIC II.
Juniors Jill Ford and Leah Jones added some solid guard play for Hamburg, scoring nine and eight points, respectively, and helping get the ball inside to their bigs. Jones added a dagger for Hamburg, knocking down a three with just over a minute to play to extend the lead to 13.
The Bulldogs’ defense continued to be a staple of the team’s success as they held Iroquois to single digit scoring in every quarter, including allowing only four points in the fourth.
“We definitely pride ourselves on defense,” Wolf said. “At practice, everything we do is based off our defense. Our motivation comes through our defense. We can shoot threes and score points but we can also get blocks and steals.”
Hamburg, which finished the regular season against Sweet Home on Feb. 13, should be a top seed in the upcoming Class A-1 Tournament as the team attempts to return to the championship game, where it lost last year to Grand Island.