WAMEGO — Paced by junior Lanie Page, the Wamego Red Raiders girls’ basketball team overwhelmed the Rock Creek Mustangs for a 47-18, victory on Friday night.
Rock Creek head coach Mike Zabel said Wamego was just “bigger, faster, and stronger.” He added that he would be surprised if anyone beat the Red Raiders this season.
The younger of the Page sisters, Lanie, continually attacked the basket against the Rock Creek defense, getting ample looks at the free-throw line. She had a game-high 24 points, capping off the night with a long-distance triple.
“I think most of my points were off defense and rebounding,” Lanie said. “I think playing off defense really helped us.”
Sporting a heavy trap-based pressure defense, the Red Raiders’ speed and length forced Rock Creek into a number of errors, leading to easy baskets on the other end for Wamego.
“I really liked our defense,” Page said. “I think our defense carried us.”
The Red Raiders jumped out to a 29-point half, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second, but their attack slowed in the second half, where they only added 18 points between the third and fourth quarters.
Rock Creek scored 18 points in the entire game. Zabel said his team has struggled to shoot the ball all season long, but the lack of production does not stem from a lack of effort.
“We run our offense well and we play team basketball well, but we just don’t shoot the ball very well,” Zabel said. “Inside or outside.”
The lone bright spot in the box score for Rock Creek, which is playing without Alexis Wilson this season, was Jacy Johnston. Johnston, who is the daughter of boys’ basketball coach Mike Johnston, finished with nine points. Her first and last baskets were 3-pointers.
Due to foul trouble and depth, Rock Creek had three freshmen on the court at once. At one point, Zabel and Johnston discussed plays at the scorer’s table, encouraging Johnston to run a play that the freshmen probably wouldn’t be familiar with.
“Those freshmen (were) thrown in to the fire,” Zabel said. “All our people are one level too high.”
Zabel ended by saying this big loss to Wamego will pay off in the long run, but “not right now.”
While there are definite growing pains with a young team, the trio of freshmen did combine for seven of the team’s 18 points and nearly equaled Johnston’s output.
Nebraska signee Kaylee Page finished with five points. But her father and head coach Jim Page said Kaylee’s importance extends beyond the stat sheet.
“The thing with Kaylee is that she affects the game in so many ways,” he said. “She got us in to our offense, was directing when we got in to our defense, calling inbounds plays.”
Friday night’s win was also the first game for Manhattan High sophomore transfer Caitlyn Claussen.
“I think that was the big thing — was getting her involved with the other kids,” Jim said.
Next up for Wamego is league action against Concordia.
Things don’t get any easier for Rock Creek as it hosts top-ranked Riley County on Tuesday.