By Brady Ambrose
Battling injuries and illness, the Caledonia Warrior girls basketball team had enough to worry about entering Saturday night’s non-conference tilt at home against the Waukon Indians. Losers of six of their last eight games, including a 52-44 home loss to Chatfield Thursday night and a 56-50 loss at Kingsland Tuesday, the Warriors were faced with a couple more distractions courtesy of the Indians, the #12 ranked team in the state of Iowa in class 3A.
Waukon features not only the leading scorer in girls basketball in the state of Iowa in Daneshia Snitker, but head coach Gene Klinge needed just one win to reach the 1,000th win mark in his career, something that has only been done by nine other coaches in the entire United States in the history of high school girls basketball.
But the Warriors would have none of it. Led by great second-half defensive effort from nearly every player on the roster, Caledonia erased a 33-26 halftime deficit and held the Indians to just 15 second half points to win a thrilling 53-48 decision. The Warriors held Snitker, who came into the game averaging over 25 points per game, to just 6 of 25 shooting from the floor.
“I will never in my career coach against a better coach,” Caledonia coach Jimmy Westland said. “I’m very proud of our kids. We’ve been going through a tough time, but the kids have stuck together through it.” Leading 12-6 in the early going Caledonia watched as the Indians went on a 12-6 run and tied the game at 18 all and then extended the lead to 33-26 at the break.
Caledonia started the second half with a 7-0 run capped by Taylor Winjum’s three-pointer that tied the game at 33 all. The senior scored six straight points and finished with 27 on the night. Clinging to a one point lead at 47-46 with 2:28 to play, Winjum hit two free throws to push the lead to 53-46. Westland dished out the praise for his team after the game, saying, “The kids knew the guy has 999 wins but there was no panic – even when we were down seven at halftime. They rebounded the crap out of the ball and played hard. They didn’t want him to get it in our gym.”
The Warriors hosted St. Charles Tuesday night and will then host Lewiston-Altura Friday night.