Whitko Bests Maconaquah For Sixth Straight Victory

January 18, 2024 at 10:00 p.m.
Whitko junior Adryianna Phillips drives to the basket during Thursday night's home game against Maconaquah. Photo by Gary Nieter
Whitko junior Adryianna Phillips drives to the basket during Thursday night's home game against Maconaquah. Photo by Gary Nieter

By Connor McCann

Needing to go perfect the rest of the way in Three Rivers Conference play for a chance to overtake Lewis Cass for the conference crown, the Whitko girls basketball team set their sights on Maconaquah Thursday night, looking for a big win at home. The Lady ‘Cats got just that, overcoming a slow start to defeat the Lady Braves 70-59.
Points were hard to come by for both teams in the game’s opening minutes, albeit for different reasons. The defense of Whitko was stout, with the Lady ‘Cats using their quickness to trap ballhandlers and jump passing lanes, leading to a plethora of turnovers by the Lady Braves. On the other side, the home team had no problem getting open shots off, but struggled to see them go down. The poor shooting start allowed the visitors to jump out to an early lead despite the issues holding onto the basketball.
The advantage wouldn’t last long, as Whitko was able to put it together and go on a run, which was jump started by the Stonebreaker sisters, Jayma and Reese. Jayma had the hot hand early, hitting her shots and piling up the points as her team took the lead for the first time in the game. Reese would make just one shot in the first half of play, but made a huge impact on the game defensively, cutting Maconaquah possessions short with a steal or tipped pass.
Suddenly, after both teams spent the first half of the first quarter feeling each other out, points started to come in a hurry. The Lady Braves had an incredibly hot stretch shooting the deep ball and used the three pointer to stick around in the back-and-forth contest. The offensive work of Jayma as well as Adriyanna Phillips would be enough for the Lady ‘Cats to hold a five point lead going into the second.
Whitko enjoyed a fantastic start to the following quarter, going on a quick spurt in the opening minute to extend its lead to double figures. Maconaquah would struggle to chip away at the lead, but was able to do just enough to hang around thanks to their good work on the glass. While the Lady ‘Cats were being consistently held to just one shot per possession, the Lady Braves were able to crash the boards on the offensive end and get two or three tries per trip. Combined with a lineup full of shooters, the visitors were able to prevent the game from getting out of hand.

    Junior Isabel Braconi shoots during the first quarter as Maconaquah's Aubrey Kaiser moves in to defend. Photo by Gary Nieter

On the other side though, Whitko did little to allow their opponents to sneak back into it. Phillips and Jayma followed up their solid opening quarter with even more points in the second, while Isabel Braconi served as another viable option, scoring six in the period. Even with leading scorer Kloe Kreig scoring just two points in the first half, Whitko went into halftime with a 13-point lead.
The Lady ‘Cats gave the visitors a bit of their own medicine to begin the third quarter, with Phillips and Braisha Harrison hitting back-to-back three pointers to give their team a bit more separation. The Lady Braves would have an answer of their own, hitting a pair on the other end to bring the differential right back to 13.
There were multiple instances in which Maconaquah was able to get the lead down to 10, but each time, it seemed like Whitko had an answer. Whether it was a putback by Gwen Howard or a three pointer for Reese, the Lady ‘Cats were determined to stay in front. A buzzer-beating layup by Reese would give the home team a 16-point advantage heading into the final quarter as they looked to finish it off.
The lead continued to grow in the opening minutes of the fourth as Jayma continued her big night with her third three pointer. The Lady ‘Cats did give the visitors an opportunity to make their comeback a little bit easier, picking up five team fouls in the first two and a half minutes of the period.
Even with the added help of mandatory trips to the charity stripe, Maconaquah struggled to keep up with the high-powered offense of Whitko. After a quiet third quarter, Phillips made her mark on the game once again, hitting two three pointers in a row to extend the lead to 20.
That seemed to be the magic number, as not long afterwards, both teams emptied their benches to give players some much-welcomed experience. The Lady Braves performed well in the final minutes, tightening up the final score.
Jayma and Phillips each finished the game with 21 points. Braconi added eight while Reese scored seven. Harrison rounded out the top five scorers with six points.
Whitko (14-3, 6-1 TRC) will play Northfield on Saturday in the team’s final conference game. The Lady ‘Cats will need to win and have Lewis Cass drop one of its final two conference games to either Southwood or Rochester to earn a share of the title.

Needing to go perfect the rest of the way in Three Rivers Conference play for a chance to overtake Lewis Cass for the conference crown, the Whitko girls basketball team set their sights on Maconaquah Thursday night, looking for a big win at home. The Lady ‘Cats got just that, overcoming a slow start to defeat the Lady Braves 70-59.
Points were hard to come by for both teams in the game’s opening minutes, albeit for different reasons. The defense of Whitko was stout, with the Lady ‘Cats using their quickness to trap ballhandlers and jump passing lanes, leading to a plethora of turnovers by the Lady Braves. On the other side, the home team had no problem getting open shots off, but struggled to see them go down. The poor shooting start allowed the visitors to jump out to an early lead despite the issues holding onto the basketball.
The advantage wouldn’t last long, as Whitko was able to put it together and go on a run, which was jump started by the Stonebreaker sisters, Jayma and Reese. Jayma had the hot hand early, hitting her shots and piling up the points as her team took the lead for the first time in the game. Reese would make just one shot in the first half of play, but made a huge impact on the game defensively, cutting Maconaquah possessions short with a steal or tipped pass.
Suddenly, after both teams spent the first half of the first quarter feeling each other out, points started to come in a hurry. The Lady Braves had an incredibly hot stretch shooting the deep ball and used the three pointer to stick around in the back-and-forth contest. The offensive work of Jayma as well as Adriyanna Phillips would be enough for the Lady ‘Cats to hold a five point lead going into the second.
Whitko enjoyed a fantastic start to the following quarter, going on a quick spurt in the opening minute to extend its lead to double figures. Maconaquah would struggle to chip away at the lead, but was able to do just enough to hang around thanks to their good work on the glass. While the Lady ‘Cats were being consistently held to just one shot per possession, the Lady Braves were able to crash the boards on the offensive end and get two or three tries per trip. Combined with a lineup full of shooters, the visitors were able to prevent the game from getting out of hand.

    Junior Isabel Braconi shoots during the first quarter as Maconaquah's Aubrey Kaiser moves in to defend. Photo by Gary Nieter

On the other side though, Whitko did little to allow their opponents to sneak back into it. Phillips and Jayma followed up their solid opening quarter with even more points in the second, while Isabel Braconi served as another viable option, scoring six in the period. Even with leading scorer Kloe Kreig scoring just two points in the first half, Whitko went into halftime with a 13-point lead.
The Lady ‘Cats gave the visitors a bit of their own medicine to begin the third quarter, with Phillips and Braisha Harrison hitting back-to-back three pointers to give their team a bit more separation. The Lady Braves would have an answer of their own, hitting a pair on the other end to bring the differential right back to 13.
There were multiple instances in which Maconaquah was able to get the lead down to 10, but each time, it seemed like Whitko had an answer. Whether it was a putback by Gwen Howard or a three pointer for Reese, the Lady ‘Cats were determined to stay in front. A buzzer-beating layup by Reese would give the home team a 16-point advantage heading into the final quarter as they looked to finish it off.
The lead continued to grow in the opening minutes of the fourth as Jayma continued her big night with her third three pointer. The Lady ‘Cats did give the visitors an opportunity to make their comeback a little bit easier, picking up five team fouls in the first two and a half minutes of the period.
Even with the added help of mandatory trips to the charity stripe, Maconaquah struggled to keep up with the high-powered offense of Whitko. After a quiet third quarter, Phillips made her mark on the game once again, hitting two three pointers in a row to extend the lead to 20.
That seemed to be the magic number, as not long afterwards, both teams emptied their benches to give players some much-welcomed experience. The Lady Braves performed well in the final minutes, tightening up the final score.
Jayma and Phillips each finished the game with 21 points. Braconi added eight while Reese scored seven. Harrison rounded out the top five scorers with six points.
Whitko (14-3, 6-1 TRC) will play Northfield on Saturday in the team’s final conference game. The Lady ‘Cats will need to win and have Lewis Cass drop one of its final two conference games to either Southwood or Rochester to earn a share of the title.

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