The Schuyler Central High School Lady Warriors rode the 20 point scoring effort of junior Rachel Shonka and a second half surge to come from behind and defeat the Ralston Lady Rams by the score of 42-39 Thursday night in Schuyler.
The Lady Warriors `were tied with the Lady Rams at 6-6 with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter and at 37-37 with 3:46 to go in the game and finally took their first lead of the game at 39-37 with 3:04 left.
Shonka made her presence known in the paint against the shorter Ralston lineup as she connected for eight field goal attempts and made four of her 13 free throw attempts to pace the Schuyler attack in arguably what arguably was her best game of the season.
Ralston entered the game with a record of 1-18 but they dominated much of the early going. After Schuyler knotted the game at 6-6, Ralston caught fire and went on an 11-2 run to build a 17-8 lead after one quarter. SCHS head coach Kadeyn Johnson knew that a win over the Lady Rams wouldn’t come easy. “I told our girls early on that this was going to be a very physical game. I told them to play it out and whoever played the scrappiest would win. We ended up getting it done today.”
Shonka hit a short jumper and completed a three point play to keep Schuyler within striking distance at 21-13 with 4:16 to go in the first half but Ralston countered with another run, this time of 7-2, to take their biggest lead of the game of 13 points at 28-15 with 1:48 to go on a three point jumper by Kennedy Walls.
Trailing 29-17 late in the second quarter the Lady Warriors gave a foreshadowing of things to come in the second half. A layup by Jakelin Mejia and a pair of free throw free throws by Shonka cut the deficit to 31-21. Shonka then brought the crowd to their feet when she hit a layup with two seconds left in the half to make it 31-23.
Coach Johnson stated, “The second half we started blocking out more and got a lot more rebounds. Defensively, we started getting our hands up in their faces. We stuck with our 1-3-1 zone defense and we put pressure on their points guard to get her to make bad passes. Our wings did a much better job of denying the ball.”
The second half turned into a more defensive contest by both teams. Ralston’s Leah Dennell hit one of two free throw attempts to stretch the Lady Rams lead back to nine at 32-23 before Schuyler reeled off the next seven points. Shonka hit another layup, Yessica Rodriguez hit a short jumper from the wing, and Tasha Wolken nailed a three-point bomb from behind the arc bringing Schuyler to within 32-30 with 1:30 to go in the third quarter.
The comeback effort by the Lady Warriors was temporarily thwarted as Ralston’s Carmen Dudley sank a three-pointer with five seconds left in the period to expand the lead to 35-30 entering the final quarter of action.
Schuyler remained hot to start the fourth quarter as Shonka and Rodriguez hit jumpers to pull the Lady Warriors to within one point at 35-34. Ralston’s Taylor Garris hit a jump shot two minutes later to extend the Lady Rams lead to 37-34 with 5:00 remaining in the game.
Schuyler’s Tasha Wolken then hit two of the biggest shots of the night when she connected on a long three-pointer and a ten foot jumper to give the Lady Warriors the 39-37 advantage.
Ralston tied the game up at 39-39 with 50 seconds left on a layup by Walls but Schuyler scored on two free throws by Haylee Korth and one by Shonka in the closing seconds to propel the Lady Warriors to their third win of the season.
Coach Johnson noted the total team effort given by his squad. “It took everybody for us tonight to get this win. We started knocking down shots when we needed to and overall we did a good job of handling their pressure.”
In addition to Shonka’s scoring surge the Lady Warriors were paced by Wolken with 12 points, Rodriguez with 6, and Korth and Mejia each with two points.