By Dave Faries

Klinkhammer, Longhorns Girls Top DCS, Southeast


Michele Daum

Darbi Klinkhammer

Kimball spent much of Saturday living in denial.

On their way to a 41-33 winner’s bracket victory, they denied the Southeast Cyclones open shots. The visitors hit on only 27.6 percent of their opportunities.

They denied them passing lanes and easy boards, outrebounding Southeast by double digits.

“When you hold your opponent to 33 points, you have to be pleased with the defensive effort,” said Longhorns’ head coach Ken Smith.

Darbi Klinkhammer helped secure the win with 21 points. Jessica Hanks and Shelby Vogel combined for 17 more, both shooting over 60 percent from inside the arc.

For much of the game, however, Kimball needed a persistent defense. The team converted just 6 of 21 from the floor in the first half and fell behind heading into the break.

Down 17-15 after a sluggish 16 minutes, the Longhorns even relied on their defense to spark a little offensive action.

Early in the third quarter, Jessica Hanks tipped the ball from Southeast’s grasp, scooped it up and fired to Shelby Vogel, streaking down the opposite sideline. She completed the fast break with a layup, evening the score at 17-all.

Klinkhammer took over moments later, draining a three under pressure then darting through four defenders for an easy roll in.

She added another point from the line after yet another act of thievery.

In fact, the Longhorns recorded 6 steals in the period while holding Southeast to a mere 3 points.

“We made it a goal to work on defense,” Jessica Hanks said. “We had a really good second half.”

Kimball ended the third with a 23-20 lead and quickly tacked on 2 more points when Hanks scored after an offensive rebound.

The Cyclones answered, Madison Pragnell bouncing one off the glass. But Kimball kept pace when Klinkhammer made a strong baseline move for a layup then began to edge away.

With 5:36 remaining, Hanks drove into the lane, hit her shot and drew a foul. The bonus gave Kimball a 6 point margin, which Klinkhammer soon extended after a clever pump fake.

Southeast’s Dani McManamen bulled her way into the paint and scratched into the Longhorn lead. But the injury proved to be fleeting.

Vogel nabbed a rebound on the offensive side and pressed through for 2 points. She then took a Klinkhammer pass and slipped into the lane for 2 more.

“The girls executed great,” Smith said. “If we keep doing the little things, good things will happen.”

Kimball 43 - DCS 41

Brooke Hager thought her shot was sailing wide.

The Longhorns were clinging to a 36-35 advantage over Dundy County-Stratton with 4:21left to play in their tournament opener Friday night when Hager put up a three pointer.

“I thought it was off target,” she reported.

As the ball arched toward the rim, however, her perspective changed. “I saw it and--’OK, I’m good.’”

Hager’s three nudged Kimball to a 39-35 lead that would prove critical on their way to a 43-41 win. The Longhorns managed only 4 more points as time ran down--all free throws and all nail biters, as the team shot 4 for 12 from the line over the final four minutes.

“Free throws aren’t falling right now,” Smith said, shaking his head. “Sometimes it’s better to win ugly than to lose pretty.”

From the opening tip it was a rough one. The Tigers took an 8-6 lead into the second quarter. Kimball kept in stride, however, and jumped on top momentarily when Taylor Wismer drained a three from the wing and Danika Daum followed with another, this time from the top of the key.

But Dundy County-Stratton came roaring back. Colby Duvel answered Kimball’s quick 6 with a short jumper and FayeLee Sanford hit from the same spot on the Tigers’ next possession to knot things at 16-all. Then Angela Crouse and Natalie Kent went to work.

By the time the half ended, Dundy County-Stratton had fashioned a 14-4 run.

“We weren’t pleased in the first half,” Smith admitted, “but we challenged the girls at halftime.”

The coach’s encouragement--and a trapping full court defense that forced multiple Tigers turnovers--inspired the Longhorns. Klinkhammer pilfered the ball and drove coast to coast to open the second half. After an exchange of points, she again engineered a steal and layup.

Just a few seconds later, Hanks stole the ball and dished to Vogel. Fouled in the act, she converted 1 of 2 from the line. Then another act of theft, this time by Daum, handed the Longhorns a turn that was eventually finished by the freshman center with a deft hook.

When the dust settled on the third quarter, Kimball had recorded 9 steals and it was again a one point game.

“We knew we weren’t playing hard,” Klinkhammer said of the team’s first half effort. “In the second, we played together.”

Six Longhorns put points on the board during the contest and five shared in the rebounding duties.

Out of the gate in the fourth period, Klinkhammer powered down to the baseline then rolled out to the bottom of the circle and nailed a jumper, tipping the balance in Kimball’s favor by a single point. Shortly after, Hager converted a Vogel kick out pass.

Duvel won a battle under the net to bring Dundy County-Stratton back to within two. And that’s when Hager followed with her crucial three.

The final few minutes were never safe. The Longhorns’ struggles at the line and turnovers by both sides marked the nerve-wracking finish.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Klinkhammer admitted, “but it was a win.”


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