KALIDA – It’s been the “next player up” mentality all season long for Kalida.
When Kalida’s leading scorer, Abby Wurth, went down with a sprained ankle in the first half of Thursday’s Putnam County League girls’ basketball matchup with Continental, Kalida had plenty of help to cover the void.
In the second half, Kalida pulled away from Continental, en route to a convincing 50-25 victory at Richard L. Kortokrax Court, and notched its first PCL title since 2015.
The other constant this season for Kalida has been its defensive prowess.
After Kalida slipped out with a 25-19 lead at the halftime break, the Wildcats then held the Pirates to just six points in the second half.
“We talked last week after we beat Leipsic, that it’s nice to get at least a piece of it (PCL title), but we don’t want to share it,” Kalida girls head coach Adam Huber said. “I was a little frustrated in the first half (on Thursday). We missed some shots and we obviously had some adversity with Abby (Wurth, four points) going down with a sprained ankle and a couple girls with two fouls. We talked about defense at the half. We held them to six points in the second half. So, that makes me feel pretty good about our defensive effort.”
With the win, Kalida ends the regular season at 16-5 and finishes the PCL schedule with a perfect 7-0 mark. Continental is 4-17 and 2-5 in the PCL.
Senior Lauren Langhals led Kalida and all scorers with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Langhals also made three steals at the defensive end. Brenna Smith scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds. Grace Klausing had seven points, five boards and two steals for the Wildcats.
Langhals was an eighth-grader the last time Kalida won the PCL.
“We talked about it at the beginning of the season, saying that we wish it would happen,” Langhals said. “It came true, and it feels good that we finished it out, winning it outright.”
Kerri Prowant led Continental with seven points and four rebounds. Addyson Armey scored six points. Alex Hoeffel also had six points for the Pirates, including two 3-pointers.
Continental came out strong to start Thursday’s contest.
The Pirates claimed an early lead, 6-4, at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter, on a layup by Addyson Armey, off a Kalida turnover.
A little later, Continental led 9-6 on a 3-pointer by Prowant.
However, Kalida responded.
The Wildcats closed out the first quarter on an 11-2 run, and led 17-11 by the first stop.
Langhals led Kalida with six first-quarter points.
Kalida led 25-19 at the halftime break. The Wildcats made 8 of 20 shots from the field for 40 percent, while Continental connected on 7 of 22 from the floor for 32 percent. Klausing led Kalida in the first half with seven points.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 38-24 by the end of the third quarter. Langhals connected twice behind the arc. Continental struggled in the third quarter, making just 1 of 10 shots from the floor.
The shooting woes continued for Continental in the fourth quarter as the Pirates were 0 for 9 from the floor.
Kalida out-scored Continental 12-1 in the final eight minutes of action.
For the game, Continental shot a dismal 20 percent from the floor. Kalida shot 53 percent from the field.
“That’s kind of been our MO all year,” Continental head coach K.C. Knowles said. “We only play two, maybe three good quarters. We played a good Wayne Trace team the other night and hung right with them for a half. Then in the second half, we kind of faltered. We get a lot of east and west basketball and not much north and south. The girls tend to get a little stagnate.
“But I was proud at the way we played in the first half. We hung with the PCL champs. But if you can’t play four quarters and finish a ball game, then it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
Both teams turned the ball over 16 times on the night.
Kalida won the boards, 29-23.
“I’m super proud of these girls,” Huber said. “We told them last week, that we didn’t think people thought we would be this good. These girls have come every day and we’ve found somebody different to make the plays. It’s truly a team effort every time.
“It’s just been someone else every night that steps up and that makes us tougher to guard, because you don’t know who to take away,” he said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.