SLAYTON -- The Edgerton Public girls basketball team lost them all last winter, coming up short in 23 straight games.
But things are looking up for the Flying Dutchmen, thanks in large part to a strong junior and a precocious freshman.
Reece Wassink, a 6-foot junior center, poured in 33 points, and 5-9 frosh Alyda Vande Griend added 23 as Edgerton outlasted the scrappy Murray County Central Rebels 63-55 here Thursday night in a Red Rock Conference game.
Wassink worked nonstop for good position inside and shot 14-for-21 from the floor as the Dutchmen improved to 6-5 this season.
That’s a long way from last year’s 0-23 mark.
“The atmosphere is just totally different this year,” said Wassink. “I feel like we’re way faster. We’ve been in the gym lifting and doing a lot of acceleration work, so we’re playing at a totally different speed. And the experience helps, too.
“And it’s way more fun.”
Senior guard Brynn Graphenteen scored 15 points and had at least five steals to lead the Rebels, who twice rallied all the way back from seven-point deficits in the second half. Junior Emily Rohrer and senior Bryn Hoekman scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, for MCC, but the two post players combined to miss 12 free throws.
The Rebels shot just 7-for-25 from the foul stripe as free throws proved costly.
Edgerton shot 17-for-26 at the foul line, including two by Wassink with 5:06 to play after a Rebel lane violation off a miss provided another chance.
Vande Griend had a key offensive rebound in the final minute that led to free throws with her team clinging to a four-point lead.
MCC coach Luke Freeman said his team, which dropped to 1-10, just didn’t make enough winning plays down the stretch. But the Rebels battled throughout.
“For sure,” Freeman said. “There were some good moments there, especially offensively. We took some big growth. Emily Rohrer played really well inside, and Bryn Hoekman played well. Brynn Graphenteen did a good job of attacking the rim, getting in the paint and finishing at the rim. It was a much-needed thing for our offense.”
Wassink was clearly the difference.
“She’s a really nice player,” said Freeman. “She can finish around the rim very nicely and is very smooth down there.”
Though MCC’s season has been bumpy, the Rebels aren’t packing it in.
“We’re right there and we’ve been right there with a lot of these conference teams,” Freeman said. “Unfortunately we’ve fallen on the short end too many times, but we’re getting better and we’re excited about the second half of the season.”
Edgerton led 24-17 in the first half after Wassink scored 11 straight points, but the teams were tied at halftime as Graphenteen sparked a 10-3 run in the final moments of the first stanza.
Edgerton led 36-29 and 55-48 in the second half, but both times the Rebels clawed back to tie the score. After Rohrer’s steal and layup with 6:20 to play put MCC ahead 46-45, Wassink immediately answered to put her team in front for good.
The 33 points was a career-high total for the junior center, who averages about 20 ppg.
“(The Rebels) have some good tall posts and we did a really nice job of getting her the ball in some opportune spots,” said Edgerton coach Andrew Fleischman. “Mateya (Gilbertson) and Addy (Fleischman) especially did a good job of getting her the ball and she did a great job of finishing.”
Vande Griend, a long-armed freshman forward, had 17 second-half points. Her game included a 9-for-12 effort at the foul line that meshed well with Wassink’s powerful performance in the paint.
“I didn’t think I was playing very well defensively,” Wassink said. “So I just decided to push myself on offense and try to make an impact on the game.”
Mission accomplished. With Wassink and Vande Griend around for many games to come, perhaps the Dutchmen have only just begun to chalk up the victories.
Edgerton 27 63
Murray County Central 27 55
EDGERTON (3FG-2FG-FG-TP) - Savannah Schultz 0-1-1-3, Alda Vande Griend 0-7-9-23, Reece Wassink 0-14-5-33, Haley Wieck 0-1-1-3, Mariam Ockenga 0-0-1-1. Totals: 0-23-17-63.
MURRAY COUNTY CENTRAL (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Josie Harms 0-1-0-2, Emma Johnson 0-2-2-6, Casey Miller 0-0-1-1, Brynn Graphenteen 1-6-0-15, Seanna Swenson 0-2-3-7, Emily Rohrer 0-7-0-14, Bryn Hoekman 1-3-1-10. Totals: 2-21-7-55.