HEBRON – It was a homecoming of sorts Wednesday.
Alden-Hebron girls basketball coach Jen Nichols, a former Woodstock basketball standout, was coaching against her former team and former coach, Marty Hammond, an Alden-Hebron graduate and former A-H softball coach.
The schools, separated by only 12 miles on Route 47, had never met in the regular season. And this one turned into a scrap.
Nichols was issued a technical from the bench. Woodstock’s Alejandra Taborn was T’d up from the court, and elbows, hard fouls, and tough rebounds were the norm before Woodstock pulled away for a 66-45 nonconference victory.
“I’m glad we came up against this team because it forces us to play a lot harder,” Hammond said. “Jen, it’s her first year here, and she’s got those girls playing real, real hard.”
Woodstock (3-2) was led by Sam Ludwig with a game-high 20 points. The Blue Streaks will most likely lean on her senior leadership this season.
“I’m very happy with how our team is working out,” Ludwig said. “We came out with the taller girls and the better shots.”
The Streaks went on a 16-6 run to start the game before the Giants fought back. However, the Streaks closed the game on a 25-10 run to put it away.
Megan Pautrat (18 points) and Cody Brand (16) provided the second and third options for the Streaks. Pautrat believed the game was a little closer than Woodstock would have liked.
“We just kept wanting to force it at times, and it wasn’t there,” Pautrat said.
The Streaks had a tough spell of shooting in the second quarter, as the Giants went on a 10-2 run to tie the score at 18.
“We had the consistency when we played our game,” A-H junior Jacqueline Walters said. “That’s when we really pulled together.”
A-H (4-2) tied the score at 21, but Nichols’ technical followed. Woodstock took a 24-21 lead after the free throws and never trailed again.
“Our ladies stood strong, fought the entire game and they did exactly what I knew they would do as far as effort,” Nichols said. “There’s a few things we struggled with as far as rebounding and boxing out, but as far as our heart and effort, it was definitely there.”
Walters led A-H with 18 points, and she said the challenge Woodstock posed will help her team later in the year.
“We can always know that we played against a school that’s a 3A school – we’re a 1A school with 120 kids,” Walters said. “But knowing that we stayed with them in the beginning is really good.”
A-H’s Gabrielle Peterson scored 11, and Sparkle Lagerhausen added six.
Hammond is waiting for his Streaks, who took rushed and hurried shots to allow A-H back into the game, to come together.
“Sooner or later they’re going to mature as a team,” Hammond said. “We have three 6-footers almost, and we’ll start working the ball inside and outside. We should be able to dominate inside.”