No. 2 Winterset girls beat No. 7 Ballard

No. 2 Winterset girls beat No. 7 Ballard

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No. 2 Winterset girls beat No. 7 Ballard

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WINTERSET, Ia.

Mariah Criswell slips on knee pads before every girls’ basketball game. Full body armor might offer more thorough protection.

Criswell and her Winterset teammates hit the floor as part of their hustling and hurting defense.

“Every game I’m walking around with blood on my jersey somewhere,” Criswell said.

The sophomore guard scored a team-high 15 points in a top-10 Class 4-A showdown Tuesday. No. 2 Winterset topped No. 7 Ballard of Huxley 44-24 in a Raccoon River Conference game.

Winterset’s pressure defense helped the team improve to 8-0 this season, 4-0 in conference play. Ballard (5-1) was held 23 points below its previous season-low scoring effort.

“They were out on us right away, they flustered us,” said Ballard center Katie Ahrenholtz, who scored a team-best nine points. “They’re the best defense we have seen so far.”

Winterset guard Taylor Benshoof, who scored 10 points, said she gets bruised in every game from sliding on the court on defense.

“I wrap my foot, my ankle and my left leg,” Benshoof said.

Winterset has held six foes to fewer than 40 points this season. The Huskies stand atop the conference with a 4-0 record. Dallas Center-Grimes and Perry both improved to 3-1 in the league with wins on Tuesday.

Winterset scored the first four points on baskets by Criswell and Benshoof. Ballard’s first points came on a basket by Alanna Dubberke with 2:41 left in the opening quarter.

The Huskies scored the last 10 points of the second quarter to build a 21-9 halftime lead. Benshoof hit two baskets and Michaela Hoffelmeyer hit a 3-pointer during the run.

Winterset held Ballard to 15 points in the second half. Criswell hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter to stretch her team’s lead to 33-17 at the end of the period.

Ballard struggled at the free-throw line, making four of 19 attempts. The bench scored 13 points.

Ahrenholtz is one of two seniors for Ballard.

“By the end of the season, we’re going to be a good team,” Ahrenholtz said.

Winterset struggled shooting, but the defense carried the team.

“They know they can’t always count on their offense, but you can always count on your defense and your pressure,” coach Doug Messerschmitt said.

The Huskies serenaded the student section with the school song, which finishes with “On, team, for we expect a victory from you, Winterset High.” That’s happened after every game this season.

“Losing does not seem like it’s going to happen,” Criswell said.

BALLARD (24)–Ihle 0 0-0 0, McGee 0 0-0 0, Ahrenholtz 4 1-10 9, Stolte 0 0-0 0, Petersen 1 0-0 2, Knittel 3 0-1 6, Dubberke 2 1-2 5, Doud 0 1-2 1, Gealow 0 1-4 1, Pote 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 4-19.

WINTERSET (44)–Marker 1 4-6 6, Olson 3 0-0 7, Eyerly 1 0-0 2, Criswell 5 3-4 15, Benshoof 5 0-2 10, Hoffelmeyer 1 0-0 3, Messerschmitt 0 0-0 0, Henggeler 0 0-0 0, Moss 0 1-3 1. Totals 16 8-15.

Ballard…6 3 8 7–24

Winterset…6 15 12 11–44

3-point goals–Ballard 0, Winterset 4 (Olson, Criswell 2, Hoffelmeyer). Fouls–Ballard 14, Winterset 14.

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