FOREST CITY | A 3-point barrage lit the Warriors fire, then they showed their resolve in holding on late.
Back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers for Waldorf broke open a close ballgame early in the third quarter, then the host Warriors held off a late charge by Viterbo to score a 73-67 win in North Star Athletic Association action Friday night at the Hanson Fieldhouse.
“I’m very pleased,” Waldorf head coach Katie Schutjer said, “I always explain to my girls that basketball is a game of runs and you’re going to have highs and you’re going to have lows, and we definitely had that tonight.
“Our team has fought all year, which is something we haven’t done in the past, and so it’s kind of good to actually see them grow up a little bit, and mature a little bit; that you’re going to have times in a game where you’re not doing so hot, and understand how to pick each other up and focus on the things that you do do well so you can get that run on your side.”
Both teams took their time making a charge, trading baskets in the opening quarter with Waldorf (4-8 overall, 2-2 NSAA) on top 14-13 headed into the second.
A Samantha Birkes 3-ball sparked a small run for the Warriors in the second quarter, as they pushed in front 24-15 after a Birkes layup, but Viterbo kept it close, and early in the third trailed just 32-26.
That’s when Waldorf’s outside barrage changed the game.
A Michaela Graffunder triple, followed by a 3-ball each from Taylor Fricke and Birkes, turned a 32-26 contest into the makings of a run-away.
“We came out in the third quarter and we hit some big 3s right away,” Schutjer said, as her team jumped in from 41-26. “That kind of helped sparked our energy.
“That’s something that our team really feeds off of, when we’re shooting the ball well.”
Riding that momentum the Warriors kept pouring it on, going up 47-26 on an Ameh Ogbemudia layup, and forging their biggest lead – on top 57-32 – after a Fricke 3.
Seemingly having iced the victory, things instead got tense in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors needed to show some resolve to fend off the V-Hawks (4-10, 1-3).
An 18-2 run by the visitors made it interesting, but Waldorf responded by attacking the basket as Birkes and Fricke each scored lay-in buckets, then Fricke hit two more short-range jumpers for a 67-50 Warrior lead with 5 minutes remaining.
“I think we settled a little bit,” Schutjer said of the V-Hawks comeback, “we had some dumb turnovers; and they caught fire, Viterbo’s a good team and they fight in every game.”
Viterbo fought to the end, clawing as close as 69-65 down in the final minute, but Waldorf iced the win hitting four straight free throws down the stretch.
Birkes led the way with a game-high 21 points for the Warriors, while adding in four assists. Waldorf also got 16 points and six rebounds from Fricke, and 13 points from Ogbemudia in the victory.