McKenna Warnock has 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead Monona Grove girls basketball team past Watertown
WATERTOWN — The Monona Grove girls basketball team already has seen a variety of defenses designed to slow high-scoring senior McKenna Warnock.
Watertown on Thursday night used its preferred defense — a 1-3-1, with occasional trapping — and briefly mixed in a box-and-one against the 6-foot-2 Warnock and the Silver Eagles.
But, as has been the case so often this season, the University of Iowa commit proved difficult to stop.
Warnock, who entered the game second in the state in scoring and tied for third in rebounding, had 21 of her game-high 31 points in the first half and propelled Monona Grove to a 54-40 Badger South Conference victory.
Monona Grove dealt Watertown its first loss.
“I think we worked really well as a team,” Warnock said. “We had really good floor spacing. They have a very good 1-3-1. We were able to get some cross-court passes and I think pushing pace was really successful on our end, too.”
Warnock filled up the scorebook, grabbing 14 rebounds, making eight free throws, doling out five assists, blocking three shots and totaling two steals.
Warnock made five 3-pointers, including three in the first half when the Silver Eagles (10-1, 5-1 Badger South) also played stingy defense while securing a 32-18 halftime lead.
“We’ve had some crazy defenses put on us,” Warnock said. “But we learned that a lot of it comes from screening, especially on the girl who is doing the face-guarding (in a box-and-one) because she can’t see any of the other players. And then if I get the ball, it opens up everyone else. People collapse and it opens shots for everyone else.”
Monona Grove, ranked seventh in Division 2 in the WisSports.net poll, earned its ninth consecutive victory and pulled into a share of the conference lead with Watertown and Stoughton. Junior Jenny Gorton and senior Julia Bruns added nine and seven points, respectively, for the Silver Eagles.
Aubrey Schmutzler, a 5-8 sophomore guard, topped Watertown (8-1, 5-1 Badger South) with 11 points. Goslings senior guard Jenna Koepp scored eight points and 6-0 sophomore forward Teya Maas, who endured foul trouble, had seven points.
Warnock entered Thursday’s game averaging 30.5 points and 15.2 rebounds per game, according to WisSports.net statistics.
“If you overextend on her, she’s going to get to the rim more easily,” second-year Watertown coach Matt Stollberg said. “The thing that I think is the No. 1 thing is she gets so many offensive rebounds and she can elevate and finish through contact.”
Warnock connected on three 3-pointers and scored 15 of her team’s first 19 points, as Monona Grove built a 19-5 lead with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half.
“My teammates really just found me in the open slots,” said Warnock, who was 6-for-9 from the field in the first half and 9-for-20 overall. “They were being very aggressive. When they were able to drive, it really opened up shots and wide-open looks for other players.”
Monona Grove coach Tyler Kuehl said his team did a good job moving the ball and didn’t settle for shots in the first half.
“McKenna did a nice job of finding space, finding spots and cutting to the basket when it was there,” Kuehl said. “And then she was moving all over the place. She started up top and went down low; she had some post-ups. When you have a player who you can put wherever you want, it helps.”
Instead of using a heavy dose of full-court pressure, Monona Grove relied on a man-to-man defense and also a half-court trapping defense.
“A lot of credit to the girls to adapt away from our game plan and to lock down in the half court,” Kuehl said. “I was really pleased with our defense in the first half.”
Monona Grove went on a 15-6 run in the first 8:38 of the second half, increasing its lead to 47-24 before the Goslings cut into the margin during the final nine minutes.
“I thought we played really hard,” Stollberg said. “We didn’t give up. We knew it would be a challenge.’’
Monona Grove 32 22 — 54
Watertown 18 22 — 40
MONONA GROVE — Nelson 2 0-1 5, Blang 0 0-2 0, Gorton 4 0-0 9, Warnock 9 8-10 31, Kellogg 1 0-2 2, Bruns 3 1-2 7. Totals 19 9-15 54.
WATERTOWN — Zubke 1 0-0 3, Koepp 3 0-2 8, Hendricks 1 0-0 2, Gifford 1 0-0 3, Schmutzler 5 0-2 11, Korducki 2 0-0 4, Maas 1 5-7 7, Moldenhauer 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 5-11 40.
3-point goals – MG 7 (Warnock 5, Nelson 1, Gorton 1); W 5 (Koepp 2, Zubke 1, Gifford 1, Schmutzler 1). Total fouls – MG 16; W 15. Technical foul – W coach Stollberg.