The Westby girls basketball team hosted West Salem (8-4, 5-1) in Coulee Conference action on Jan. 9.
West Salem 56, Westby 44
Despite a solid early start, strong second half and a late surge by the Norse (4-9, 2-3) they fell 56-44 to the Panthers.
Head Coach Brian Huebner said Westby played better offensively against West Salem and continued adjustments to the starting lineups and rotations lent itself to an overall better performance.
“We played a very solid game against a solid opponent. We had plenty of offensive opportunities late, but failed to capitalize on enough of them,” Huebner said.
Westby started the game strong and even led the Panthers for a short period of time in the first half. Offensively Westby had good ball movement and were taking good shots to put up points, but shortly before the break defensively Westby had a couple of players in foul trouble, which forced changes to the lineup which the Norse failed to adjust to allowing West Salem to take over offensively and jump out to a 10 point lead by half time, 30-20.
The second half Westby played very even with the Panthers, but needed to outplay its opponent to cut into the Panther’s lead. Westby was playing very solid defense and were never called for a foul the first eight minutes into the half. On the flip side West Salem had already committed six fouls by the 10 minute mark.
The last four minutes of action Westby stepped up its game forcing turnovers, rebounding strong and making shots inside the lane. The Norse got some great minutes from its younger players and managed to cut into the Panther’s lead, but lost ground at the charity stripe.
“Shooting 48 percent from the free throw line is not going to defeat a quality opponent,” Huebner said.
The Norse shot 38 percent overall hitting 44 percent of its shots from the two point range and 27 percent from long range. Grace Hebel led Westby with 10 points. Also for Westby: Kenzie Von Ruden 9, Miranda Del Medico 8, Josi Bishop 7, Kiarra Keenlance 3, Lexi Crume, Macy Stellner and Molly Stenslien, 2 points each, and Claire Griffin 1.
Kenah Olson led the Panthers with 20 points and West Salem’s Abbie Niemeier was good for 14. The Panthers led by 10 at half.
“I feel strongly that the Norse are beginning to gel as a team and if we continue to make improvements each game we can end the season on very strong note,” Huebner said.
Westby’s non-conference “Throwback Night” game scheduled for Monday, Jan. 15 was cancelled due to weather.
Westby returned to Coulee Conference action hosting Black River Falls on Thursday, Jan. 18 and travel to Richland Center for a non-conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
The Norse will face Luther at the La Crosse Center Coulee Classic on Saturday, Jan. 27. Tickets are now available at the high school for the event. Call 608-634-3101 for more ticket information.