Kaalberg leads Comets to team's first win

Kaalberg leads Comets to team's first win

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Kaalberg leads Comets to team's first win

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Kayla Kaalberg thought for a few seconds and then gave up.

The West Liberty junior couldn’t remember the most points she had ever scored in a high school basketball game.

It’s safe to assume Kaalberg won’t be forgetting Monday night’s performance anytime soon.

Kaalberg scored all of her career-high 16 points after halftime as West Liberty overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to down Bellevue 56-48 for its first win of the season.

“That’s probably the most points I’ve ever had; I wouldn’t doubt it but I honestly don’t remember,” Kaalberg said of her game-high 16 points. “I really needed that personally myself, and I think the team needed it just to get some confidence.”

Kaalberg led three Comets in double figures as West Liberty (1-13) snapped a 13-game losing skid.

Molly Kelly added 12 points and Hailey Daufeldt had 11 for West Liberty as the Comets outscored Bellevue (7-6) 19-8 in the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of them, it was a pretty complete game for us,” West Liberty coach Nick Heath said. “We kind of put it all together and we finally got one tonight. It feels great to get that monkey off our back.”

Despite entering the game winless, West Liberty didn’t look like an underdog Monday.

The Comets led 23-22 with 1:37 left in the opening half, but Bellevue scored the final eight points of the second quarter to take a 30-23 halftime lead.

Bellevue led 35-27 midway through the third quarter before West Liberty rattled off a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the second half.

Kaalberg started the 10-0 spurt with a pair of free throws and a layup and Kelly, Daufeldt and Haddie Anderson all had baskets as West Liberty took a 37-35 lead.

“Early on we were missing some easy shots, but in the second half the girls started seeing different players step up and make a basket and everyone was feeding off that,” Heath said. “When you see the ball go through the hoop, your confidence just skyrockets.”

Bellevue answered with a 5-0 run to close the third quarter and take a 40-35 lead into the fourth quarter.

Bellevue led 44-42 with 5:27 left in the game but West Liberty scored the next seven points to go up 49-44 and never trailed again.

Kaalberg gave West Liberty the lead for good with a 3-pointer to start the 7-0 run and Anderson and Daufeldt both followed with layups following steals as West Liberty pushed the lead to 49-44 with 4:09 left.

“All the girls want to win; we’ve been working hard but we hadn’t put a whole game together,” Kelly said. “It feels great to finally put four quarters together.”

Bellevue cut the lead to one at 49-48 with 2:20 left but West Liberty ended the game on another 7-0 run.

A layup by Audra Bridenstine gave the Comets a 51-48 cushion with 1:10 left and Kaalberg hit two free throws with 51 seconds left to push the lead to 53-48.

Kaalberg entered Monday’s game averaging three points a game and missed all three of her field goal attempts in the first half but hit five straight field goals in the second, including two 3-pointers, on her way to her career high.

“The first half I just came out a little cold, and after halftime I realized that my team kind of needed me,” Kaalberg said. “Once I started knocking down shots, it just felt good.”

The 56 points were easily a season high for West Liberty, which was averaging just 23 points per game as a team entering Monday.

The Comets shot 41 percent from the floor Monday and made 11-of-16 free throws.

“We haven’t been shooting the ball very well if you look at our percentages individually, and as a team it is not very high,” Heath said. “Tonight we built off everyone scoring and got the confidence high.”

Bridenstine added eight points for West Liberty while Cassie Simon had eight rebounds for the Comets.

Bellevue was led by Carly Rubel with 15 points.

“It’s feels great to finally get a win,” Kaalberg said. “Our group is full of competitive people so we really needed this one to get a W under our belt.”

Bellevue 11 19 10 10 48
West Liberty 9 14 14 19 56

Bellevue(48) – Maci Reeg 1-7 0-0 2, Mariah Steines 4-16 3-4 12, Ali Reeg 3-18 7-8 14, Jackie Kremer 1-3 0-0 2, Nichole Beckley 1-2 0-0 3, Carly Rubel 7-16 1-4 15, Ali Bottorff 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 17-63 11-16 48.

West Liberty (56) – Cassie Simon 0-2 0-0 0, Kayla Kaalberg 5-9 4-5 16, Haddie Anderson 2-7 1-2 5, Molly Kelly 4-8 1-2 12, Emma Baker 1-3 0-0 2, Hailey Daufeldt 4-14 3-5 11, Audra Bridenstine 3-4 2-2 8, Maddie Simon 1-2 0-0 2, Totals 20-49 11-16 56.

3-point field goals – WL 5-16 (Kaalberg 2-5, Anderson 0-2, Kelly 3-6, Baker 0-2, Bridenstien 0-1) B 3-20 (M. Reeg 0-3, Steines 1-5, A. Reeg 1-11, Beckley 1-1). Rebounds – WL 39 (Simon 8, Daufeldt 8) B 42 (Kremer 16). Turnovers – WL 25, B 20. Total fouls – WL 14, B 17. Fouled out – None. Technicals – None.

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Kaalberg leads Comets to team's first win

Kayla Kaalberg thought for a few seconds and then gave up.

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