By Brenden West
Digital Content Editor
Despite trailing 36-20 entering the final quarter of the River Queen Classic championship game, Central DeWitt proved on Saturday that no lead is too safe, even when the opponent is the well-seasoned Camanche Indians.
“Fourth quarter it got a little crazy,” Indians coach Dan Vogel said. “We didn’t do a really good job handling the pressure. ... Their pressure — they got after us a little bit. And you’ve got to be a little stronger with the ball.”
The Sabers had limped through three quarters, dealing with an uncharacteristic cold spell while leading scorer Amanda Brainerd tip-toed on four fouls for the final 12 minutes of gameplay. Through a relentless press defense, DeWitt trapped Camanche on its side of the court and forced the Indians into several turnovers. As a result, the Sabers almost doubled themselves up, scoring 18 points thanks to the hot hand of shooting guard Miranda Meland who accounted for 8 in the fourth.
“We had ourselves buried there down 16,” DeWitt coach Mark Kurtz said. “I said if we keep playing this way, we’re going to lose by 30. So let’s attack them and see what we can do.
“We didn’t really have a lot of options. But we started seeing a little life there at the end. The girls that were playing there in the fourth quarter gave us max effort and we made a game out of it.”
The clock ran out on the Sabers, though, giving Camanche a 43-38 win and the Classic championship. Vogel’s daughter, Kylie, led all scorers with 19 points and walked away the tournament MVP. After she posted 14 in the first half with four 3-pointers, it was clear the flu Kylie Vogel dealt with at the end of last week had tapered off.
“I’m feeling so much better, so much better,” Kylie Vogel said. “I was getting my usual looks today, more than I was yesterday. ... Dribbling the ball up the court yesterday exhausted me and it was a little bit harder to look to score. (Today) I had some good screens and it was allowing me to get in my rhythm.”
Even so, Dan Vogel said his daughter was at “75 percent.”
“She’s really weak today still,” he added.
DeWitt started quick with a 3 from Meland and a free throw by Brainerd to go up 4-0 in the opening quarter. It was short lived with Vogel tying the game with two free throws of her own, then cutting around screens behind the arc for her first two 3’s. The Indians built a 12-9 first-quarter lead and never trailed again.
Brainerd earned her second foul midway through the first sending taking her off the court for long stretches. She still managed 12 points in limited play, but it was clear the Sabers missed their post threat when they only managed 4 points in the second quarter.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Kurtz said. “We didn’t have good ball movement, and we didn’t attack the zone very well at all. We didn’t shoot well from the field and that was affecting how we defended as well.”
Vogel continued her run with two more 3’s giving Camanche the 20-13 halftime lead. She then joined teammates Lindsey Grams, Julia Moore and Libby Schnoor on a 14-2 Indians run out of the break.
Brainerd continued her game, rolling through the elbows for looks and driving hard into the lane. But it cost her when Moore drew a charge at the 3-minute mark in the third, giving Brainerd her fourth foul and more bench time.
With the 16-point lead, Schnoor tacked on some insurance with a 3 on the opening possession of the fourth. At that point, Camanche’s 39-20 lead proved all the Indians would need to seal the win.
“We extended that lead out in the third quarter and I thought we executed real well,” Dan Vogel said. “It was nice to see us execute that way.”
Although Vogel stole the show, the Indians saw another well-rounded team performance. Schnoor pulled down 17 rebounds alongside 10 points, and Moore added 6. As a group, Camanche managed only five fouls, compared to 15 by the Sabers.
Meland led DeWitt with 17 points. The Sabers were uncharacteristically absent from the free throw line, with six attempts by two players (Meland and Brainerd). The previous night, free throws accounted for 9 of their points in the 47-26 win over Clinton.
Conversely, Camanche was 9-of-14 from the stripe, with Vogel knocking down 5-of-8.
The championship, said Schnoor, is a great way to kick off the basketball season. The Indians turn their attention to Northeast in Goose Lake on Tuesday.
“We’re ready to take our first conference win and start our season off that way,” Schnoor said.
CAMANCHE 43, CENTRAL DEWITT 38
DeWitt (38): Gretchen Henningsen 4, Brittany McNamara 3, Amanda Brainerd 12, Miranda Meland 17, Abigail Willis 2. 10 5 3-6 38.
Camanche (43): Kylie Vogel 19, Brettan Hilgendorf 3, Libby Schnoor 10, Lindsey Grams 3, Julia Moore 6, Maddie Parker 2. 8 6 9-14 43.
DeWitt 9 4 7 18 — 38
Camanche 12 8 16 7 — 43