When the Aquinas High School girls basketball team was ready to find its next gear, senior Kyah Steiner was more than capable of leading the way.
Steiner, a 5-foot-9 forward for the top-ranked and unbeaten Blugolds, scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the final 4 minutes, 10 seconds of the first half as Aquinas topped Holmen 72-44 in front of 1,000 fans Friday night at the Reinhart Athletic Complex.
The Vikings (8-5, 4-2 MVC) made it a one-point game at 18-17 on a basket by senior Caitlin Young, but Steiner converted back-to-back three-point plays, giving Aquinas (11-0, 6-0) some breathing room before halftime.
“Our offense was a little slow in the beginning, and I think we were just trying to attack the gaps and get it going there,” Steiner said of the aggressive approach that produced a 32-23 halftime lead.
The senior was also instrumental in the defensive effort on Holmen’s Brooklyn Paulson, who matched Steiner with a 14 points, but was held seven below her season average.
“I think that took a lot out of her early,” Aquinas coach Dave Donarski said of Steiner’s defense. “I think she found her second wind (before halftime) and she was instrumental in that spurt that gave us that separation.
“That second half was really ours because of what Kyah did to get that going.”
The Blugolds quickly stretched a nine-point halftime lead to a 47-30 advantage with 11:37 to play thanks to a personal 7-0 run by sophomore Taylor Theusch. Senior Whittni Rezin added three baskets shortly thereafter for Aquinas, and finished with 13 points.
Sophomore Lexi Donarski was held to just nine points, below her season average of 16.7, but Aquinas had more than enough fire to keep cooking on Friday.
“It just shows that our team is really balanced and on a different night, anybody can score,” Steiner said of the offensive balance. “Everybody contributes for our team, and I think that’s what makes us really hard to stop.”
Theusch finished with nine points, while senior Jessa Peterson and sophomore Courtney Becker each added eight.
Dave Donarski said that being able to go into his bench for scoring is part of what makes the Blugolds hard to stop.
“It makes us difficult to prepare for and if you watch our box scores, every night it’s somebody else that steps up and has the game that we need them to have for us to be successful,” Dave Donarski said. “I feel like we’ve got great depth, and a lot of kids that, in most instances, would be starting for different teams.
“They maybe have to assume roles with lesser minutes, but when they come in, boy, they’re ready to contribute.”