FRANCESVILLE — Rensselaer Central girls’ basketball coach Wes Radtke believes his 2019-20 squad is the quickest he’s had in his four years with the program.
On Thursday, he turned his players loose against West Central during a one-sided 57-20 affair.
The Bombers forced eight first-quarter turnovers and jumped ahead 21-6 after the first quarter. They applied pressure early in the second quarter, forcing another seven turnovers, before Radtke reigned in his team.
“It definitely was something we knew we could do with our pressure,” Radtke said. “We knew they were going to have a hard time with that. I thought the girls made some really good decisions and really frustrated them early.”
Sophomore Abby Ahler had eight of her 10 points in the first half and senior Lexi Healey also added eight points to help the Bombers storm ahead 39-9 by halftime.
RCHS hit 10 of 16 shots in the first quarter, many coming in transition. The Bombers took more jump shots in the second quarter, hitting just 6 of 17 but still outscored the Trojans, 18-3.
Healey finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals and sophomore Addy Koebcke added 10 points. Sophomore point guard Avree Cain had all six of her points in the first quarter and added six rebounds and three assists.
Senior Sydney VanMeter, who continues to heal from knee surgery this summer, had nine points and six rebounds during three- and four-minute stretches.
“I thought she looked really good out there,” Radtke said of his top returning scorer. “It’s important we get her back in shape. But I thought we shared the basketball extremely well. I’m extremely proud of Kinzey Goodman and Kenzie Moore … those two, boy, they were all over the place. They were diving on the floor, keeping the ball alive. That’s what we try to get these girls to do, to come out and play hard.”
West Central, which has just 10 players on its roster and may not have a JV team this season, got six points from junior Tori Culp. Senior Camille Wuethrich had 11 rebounds.
The Trojans were limited to just two field goals in the first half (2 for 16) and had just six field goals in the game.
“It’s definitely hard to simulate (Rensselaer’s defense) in practice,” Trojans coach Tyson Mellon said. “We knew it was going to be that way. We worked on press-breaker and it just didn’t carry over like we hoped.”
Mellon said he and his staff will continue to work on breaking pressure as the team prepares for a game with Delphi Tuesday. He said he was thrilled with his team’s effort against RCHS despite facing low roster numbers.
“I love these girls,” he said. “Sometimes I go home at night and think, would you rather have a team with a lot of heart or a team of skill? You can teach skill, but you can’t teach heart, and I think they’ve got a lot of heart.”
The Bombers, meanwhile, will stay on the road to face Class 2A No. 2 North Judson on Saturday and Hanover Central on Tuesday.
“We still have some fine-tuning, but it’s the first game and you can’t get too upset,” Radtke said. “It’s a long season. We’ve got to get Jessie (Ringen) and Morgan (VanMeter) back (from injuries) and when we’re full tilt I’m really anxious to see what we can do.”