RILEY — With a winter storm brewing outside, Riley County senior Madison Vargo kept things hot indoors as her 24 points led the No. 2 (3A) Falcons to a decisive 50-31 victory over Wabaunsee to stay atop the Mid-East League standings.
“It feels really good,” said Vargo, who had a game-high three 3-pointers on the night. “We’re going to keep working hard. We’re still undefeated in the league. We just want to keep it going.”
Riley County head coach Harold Oliver said that he liked the way his team responded to Wabaunsee’s height advantage in the post.
“They’re a tough team,” Oliver said. “They present a lot of challenges, especially with their size inside. We felt pretty good about the way we played on the defensive end.”
The Chargers (8-4, 4-1 MEL) kept things close early, pounding the ball inside before the undersized Falcons (12-1, 6-0) packed their defense in tight, holding Wabaunsee to just three second-quarter points.
“We really locked down defensively in the second quarter, keeping them out of the post area and forced them to take some outside shots,” Oliver said.
Vargo, a senior guard, got going offensively with 12 first-half points as Riley County turned a three-point first-quarter advantage into a 28-15 halftime lead.
“Once we got some ball movement, some things off the dribble, we were able to get some good open looks and (the girls) knocked ‘em down.
Vargo, who is often a distributer for the Falcons, said it was just her night to be the hot hand.
“Most of the time,” Vargo said of her team’s usual scoring balance. “We have quite a few shooters — Katelyn (Thomson), Taylor (Oliver), myself. I was just the one getting open today.”
Vargo kept it going in the second half, scoring 12 more points to match her first-half output as the Falcons went on to lead by as many as 21 points before cruising to the easy win.
It’s win the league first, and then the focus is on a deep postseason run for the Falcons. Both Oliver and Vargo said the key is just to stay focused down the stretch of the regular season.
“We’ve still got a lot of things we can get better at,” Oliver said. “The kids are still working hard. We want to maintain as much momentum as we can. We’re getting into February now, and it’s getting into crunch time. We want to keep gelling as a team, and keep improving.”
Riley County will travel to Marysville Tuesday for a non-league matchup with the 6-2 Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.