The Kelly Walsh offense was firing on all cylinders at its home gym on Saturday afternoon. The only problem was Billings (Mont.) Skyview would utilize its transition offense to stay in the game.
So head coach Sara Tuomi decided to shuffle her lineup. Speedy guards Hallie Jimenez and Kylie Spangler were on the court together in the final 3 minutes with one goal in mind: slow down the game.
That strategy may not have worked the way Tuomi intended, but the Falcons couldn’t put together another scoring run against them and the Trojans made eight of 10 free throws down the stretch to seal a 76-63 win.
“We were just trying to slow them down in transition and stuff like that,” the KW head coach said. “Give ourselves a chance for an easy steal a little bit closer to the basket with those two kind of flying around.”
Transition or not, the Kelly Walsh defense left its head coach wanting more. A team that averaged allowing 43.75 points per game in the opening weekend has now allowed 60-plus points in consecutive games.
“Our defense tonight was not spectacular,” Tuomi said. “We let a team put 63 points up on the board on us and that’s not OK. So we just talked about that in the locker room a second ago and we need to level it up at practice and get better at rotating.”
Skyview led initially, following an exciting 21-20 first quarter. After that the Kelly Walsh defense showed traces of itself and the Trojans took a 42-30 lead into halftime. The Falcons got within six in the second half but never any closer.
Kelly Walsh senior Madison Vinich was part of that second-quarter success, scoring 14 of her 23 points in that frame. Her scoring tally tied her for the game high with teammate Jamia Johnson, who played her best game of the season. Both give the Trojans a viable scoring threat on the outside as well as in the post.
“It’s a good kind of 1-2 punch having that,” Tuomi said. “We can draw a lot of attention to those two and then have the ability to have Dani Schell, (Michaela) Gromer, Hallie (Jimenez) and Spangler, and those types of players involved too.
“It makes a little bit of a match-up nightmare for the other team so we like it.”
Gromer, another senior starter, and the sophomore Schell were the next-leading scorers for Kelly Walsh with nine.
The Trojans implemented more of a transition game in the opening weekend that brought them success. The duo of games with Billings brought more physicality, something that the Trojans will need to play through in the Class 4A West Conference.
“We had to change some things and they made some good adjustments,” Tuomi said. “We battled hard for two games and playing against West with 6-footers, that score we saw last night doesn’t show just how hard those girls worked last night.”
Billings West handed Kelly Walsh its first defeat on Friday night, 69-48.
Kelly Walsh (5-1) will host Cheyenne East for a mid-week game on Tuesday before going into the winter break.