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Black Hawk rolls Darlington
Black Hawks Kayla Meier boxes out Darlingtons Shawni Smith after a Redbird free throw in the second half of Tuesdays game.
DARLINGTON - Black Hawk's girls basketball team is coming off a silver-ball performance from a year ago and is ranked second in the state in the Division 5 Coaches Poll.

Opposing teams know that the Warriors play fierce defense and have athletes all across the floor. What teams may not have known was just how good Black Hawk freshman Jen Wellnitz is. Wellnitz scored 14 points, but hit double figures in rebounds in just the first half, and came up just a few assists shy of a triple-double - all in just her sixth varsity basketball game.

"We anticipate her getting better every game," Black Hawk head coach Mike Flanagan said after his team's 76-38 win over Darlington Tuesday. "She's been kind of the typical freshman - she'll look great some times and struggle at others."

The game was delayed 30 minutes because the scheduled officials failed to show. Instead, two substitutes came late.

The Warriors dominated the first quarter, forcing the Redbirds into 11 turnovers, including eight on steals, and led 24-12. The lead had reached 16 in the first, but Darlington received three late buckets from Elizabeth Mathias to cut the deficit.

"Black Hawk is a well-oiled machine," Darlington head coach Mike Chambers said. "They know how they want to play and do it. We want to be there at that level as a team."

Black Hawk held a 40-22 advantage at the break, having all but sealed the game thanks to a flurry of 3-pointers. The Warriors hit on six 3s in the opening half and nine in the game.

"The 3 has been there for the most part this season, but sometimes our percentage on 3s brings down our overall percentage," Flanagan said. "But our girls work hard with their shots to stay consistent. They make sure they get their feet set and follow through. It's nice to see so many different kids contribute."

In the second half, the Warriors continued to control the post and the perimeter.

"Our guards didn't play that bad, but we need better play inside. We are an inside and out team right now. Our game starts inside," said Chambers, whose team out-fouled Black Hawk 9-3 in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Wellnitz scored six points in the second half, but connected on just one bucket. However, the freshman ran the point like a veteran, dishing out four assists alone. Each pass rifled through the defense in both offensive sets and in transition.

"She looked comfortable out there. I'm really happy for that. It's encouraging for our team," Flanagan said of Wellnitz.

Rachel Rygh also scored 14 points and Alyssa Piefer added 13 points and three 3s. Jen Wellnitz' sister, Melissa, scored 10 points.

"Jen Wellnitz and Alyssa Piefer are great players for us. Piefer, at 5-2, does so many things for us that doesn't show up in the score book. She's great on defense, she's improved on her passing and ball handling and her shooting. Those two really stand out to me," Flanagan said. "Rachel Rygh and Melissa Wellnitz will get a lot of the attention, but we have some nice contributions from a lot of different players."

Amy Jorgenson led Darlington with 12 points and Mathias had 10.

"It's hard to play at the level they (Black Hawk) are playing at, but we'll get there. Our goal is to be one of the best teams around when the tournament starts," Chambers said.

Darlington (4-2) next play at home against Boscobel on Dec. 30. Black Hawk (6-0) doesn't get back into action until Jan. 7 at Argyle.