BASKETBALL: Stewart and Kodat lead Dwight to win over Beecher
BEECHER — The season opener is always the roughest game for many reasons.
However, it usually comes down to whomever has the best player down the stretch wins.
Fortunately for Dwight, Melissa Stewart and Kayla Kodat don Trojan green as the duo powered the Trojans to a 48-39 victory over Beecher on Monday.
“You could tell we’re out of shape and that’s nobody’s fault but the coach,” Dwight coach Jeff Froelich said. “We discovered a couple hidden gems that played very well. Melissa and Kayla played fantastic as did Chloe (Butterbrodt), Danielle (Carlson) and Rylee (Farris).”
It was evident after the first shot that the nerves on both sides were through the roof.
Beecher missed its first 13 shots while Dwight wasn’t much better by misfiring on 13 of its first 14 shots.
But freshman Abby Shepard gave Beecher a spark off the bench with her energy and effort to give the Bobcats a 9-7 lead after the first quarter.
“We missed a lot of shots,” Froelich said. “Both teams were taking two-foot shots and shooting them three feet. It was ugly. The nerves were obvious.”
Dwight senior forward Melissa missed every shot from the field she took in the first quarter.
But she still made an impact bringing down seven rebounds.
All she needed was to see the ball go in the hoop in some fashion, so she drove the ball and continued to get fouled.
She drained six straight free throws and later followed with a lay-in to give Dwight a 19-18 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Nerves were definitely there but this was also my first time playing in the post,” Stewart said. “I’ve always been the guard bringing the ball up but now we have Kayla to do that. It’s a transition going from a ball handler to the post, but it’s one that I’m excited to make.”
She continued to stay aggressive and attack the basket which resulted in her scoring 11 of the Trojans’ 17 second-quarter points as they took a 24-18 lead into the break.
She had 11 points and 11 rebounds at the half before finishing with game-highs of 21 points and 17 rebounds.
“I knew that I was taller and had the better vertical so I got after those boards,” Stewart said. “I was hitting my free throws and my confidence continued to grow.”
While Stewart’s scoring cooled down just a touch in the third quarter, Kodat’s scoring was heating up.
With Dwight leading 27-24, the sophomore began her tear to create some separation.
She notched a couple tough baskets underneath before stepping out and drilling a 3-pointer from the left corner to cap a personal 7-0 run that pushed the lead to double digits, 34-24.
“I kept bricking shots early and I told myself that I needed to stay calm,” Kodat said. “My main goal was focusing on that corner and staying aggressive.”
She added another basket later to give her nine third-quarter points before finishing the game with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“This is a great feeling. I played varsity last year and I’ve never scored this much in a varsity game,” Kodat said. “I put a lot of work in the offseason and it’s nice to see it pay off. I remembered in last year’s loss to Beecher that I got the steal before getting hammered. I didn’t want that to happen again and I wanted to beat Beecher.”
After Stewart and Kodat, Danielle Carlson added four points and six rebounds while Chloe Butterbrodt chipped in two points with five rebounds.
For Beecher, Cierra Welch led the way with nine points and seven rebounds.
Kaylie Sippel added eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Margaret Landis had eight points and five rebounds while Abby Shepard chipped in six points and eight rebounds.
Dwight has the next two weeks off and plays again November 27 at home against Newark. Beecher hosts the Ladycat Classic today and plays at 5:45 against Providence.