Jayettes drive through Saydel for season's biggest win
Playing for the first time in a week after Friday's game with Boone was postponed to next month, Perry girls basketball (2-9) played its second straight game against the Heart of Iowa Conference. Unlike the turnaround loss to South Hamilton, the Jayettes walked out of the gym in Saydel (1-5) with a 56-45 win.
Finding prime matchups
Monday's matchup had plenty incentive to turn the ship around with a win over a team that Perry beat 62-22 last season. But even as one of Perry's best games last season, the same template of letting Molly Lutmer (31 points) loose couldn't be applied this time around.
Without Lutmer around to hang around the arc for easy buckets, Perry had a three-pronged approach with Lydia Olejniczak (24 points), Jayna Kenney (17) and Kennedy Tunink (8).
"Kennedy played great. Really energized the team. Jayna stepped into her shot a little bit more and passed up on some open ones too. So who knows what could have happened," head coach Skylar Wolf commented. "I could go down the list. Just a great overall team effort from everybody. Just a fun game."
Stepping into big moments
Plays like Quinn Whiton's big layup followed a steal near the end of the first half also helped swing momentum, but the leading trio was always around the corner at the right time to keep the Eagles at a comfortable distance.
Saydel was encroaching on the lead down just 26-21 in the second quarter only for Kenney to step into a three. That was followed by Whiton's aforementioned layup, steal and assist for a sudden five-point swing. Kenney found the same window to go up 46-33, beginning to drive in the dagger. She said she's just looking to shoot more and help keep the lead in the team's hands.
Marking a new season-high, Olejniczak led the team in scoring thanks to a string of plays in the second half as she was part of four straight scoring plays. Most vital was a steal turned assist from Tunink that opened the floodgates. Wolf said it was moments like those combined with Kenney's added shots that really separated the game.
Learning to win
As Perry held a lead beyond halftime just three times before Monday's game, Wolf said one of the biggest takeaways is how to control the scoreboard. That score looked to have a 20-point advantage at the pace Perry was at late in the game only for the Eagles to slip in a couple plays near the end with Perry's depth showing.
"It's easy to look up at the score and see you're up by 13 and say, 'I'm tired, I'm gassed. I might take this one out," Wolf said. "That's just part of the game and it's something we'll work with and continue to grow."
Perry heads to Carlisle (1-9) on Tuesday. The Tigers won the first round 68-26 this season.