Class 4A No. 14 ranked Northwestern opened its regular season with a 61-34 victory against outmanned Twin Lakes on Saturday.

The Indians (0-2) were without five varsity mainstays because of COVID-19, injury and other reasons. The Tigers used a first-half 21-0 run to put away the host squad.

Northwestern outscored Twin Lakes 17-0 in the second quarter.

“I think also coming off a game Thursday, we had a couple girls play the entire game and we were tired a little bit,” Twin Lakes head coach Brad Bowsman said. “I thought we had some open shots, we just missed them. We had some open threes, we just couldn’t hit shots in the second quarter and some nights that will happen.”

Twin Lakes was just 2 for 22 from the field in the opening half, with freshman Olivia Nickerson scoring all five first half points. The Indians were 1 for 13 from behind the arc in the first half.

“We have a lot of length, so I feel like our pressure was effective. It’s hard to pass around a 6 foot, 2 inch girl at the top of our defense and that got us some easy baskets,” Northwestern head coach Kathie Layden said. “Defensively, we were aggressive and for our first game out I will take it.”

Tiger sophomore McKenna Layden manned the top of the Northwestern defense that focused on Nickerson, who came off a 42-point performance in the Indians’ season opener.

Nickerson finished with 25 points on 8 for 23 shooting.

“I think their length bothered Olivia on her outside shots because she had to have a lot more space. She couldn’t get that space to get her shots over Layden and it didn’t help that Emma (Need) struggled shooting tonight,” Bowsman said. “If Emma was able to hit some shots that would have given Olivia more room to work. Northwestern adjusted their defense and got into Olivia and didn’t give her space.”

Bowsman felt freshmen Ava Kaufmann and Kortney Kyser were bright spots.

“We are starting three freshmen and two of them weren’t expecting to get a lot of varsity minutes, so they were thrown into the fire,” Bowsman noted. “We are asking a lot of them and I really like what Kortney did getting some nice passes and going right up for some easy scores.

“When we went to more of a match-up defense I thought Ava did a nice job on Layden and contained (Layden) a little bit.”

Kyser had six points and Kaufmann added nine rebounds. Sophomore Kora Pass collected 11 rebounds.

Ellie Boyer paced Northwestern with 21 points. Layden added 17.

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