By William

LINDSBORG – The Smoky Valley girls basketball team came into the 2020-21 season with some high expectations as they returned all five starters plus a couple of girls with lots of playing time.

That returning experience helped, but it was a true freshman who led the Lady Vikings to a seasoning opening, 45-31, victory over Abilene on Friday evening.

Five-foot-seven forward Adrian Hazelwood made a huge impact in her first varsity game as she led the Lady Vikings offense with 14 points while senior Kerington Haxton also reached double digits with 11. Haxton also led Smoky Valley on the boards with six while junior Breanna Priddy contributed five rebounds and three steals.

Smoky Valley won the game in the opening quarter as they jumped out to a commanding 16-2 advantage before closing out the first half holding a 12-point, 22-10 lead. The Lady Vikings only outscored the Cowgirls by two points in the final two quarters to get their 14-point, 45-31 win.

“We got out to a great start as we ended the first quarter with a 16-2 lead,” noted Lady Viking Head Coach Larry Van Der Wege. “We had a lot of foul trouble in the second quarter, but the girls were able to battle without getting into further trouble in the second half.”

Overall, the Lady Vikings connected on 13 two-pointers and four three-pointers, of which three were made by Haxton, while making seven-of-twelve from the free throw line. Abilene had just eight two-pointers and a pair of threes for the game while making nine-of-thirteen at the free throw line.

Coach Van Der Wege continued his post-game reflections by adding, “Abilene made a run to cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, but Ellie (Brumbaugh) hit a three from the corner on a set play out of a timeout and the Cowgirls did not get any closer.”

In concluding his reflections, Van Der Wege pointed out, “All in all, it was the first season opening win for the Lady Vikings in more than a decade and we are excited to start the season with the win.”

Next up for the Lady Vikings will be on Tuesday, December 8, when they hit the road for a game at Southeast of Saline.

SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS INDIVIDUAL SCORING: Adrian Hazelwood – 14; Kerington Haxton – 11; Ellie Brumbaugh – 7; Avery Van Der Wege – 4; McKinley Johnson – 3; Breanna Priddy – 2; Claire Broxterman – 2.

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