WINNEBAGO – Before a much-anticipated 2A regional semifinal against Byron, the Oregon girls basketball team had a warm up against a totally inexperienced group from South Beloit.
Cruising to a 33-point halftime lead, the Hawks won 68-16.
“Basically, we’re a JV team,” South Beloit coach Larry Blake said. “For some of the girls, it’s the first time touching the ball. My job is to get them to learn fundamentals. They don’t get that before coming into high school.”
The SoBos were also hampered by having a seven-person roster, including only two upperclassmen. To their credit, they did stay within 7-4 of the Hawks in the opening minutes.
Then, on the next 17 possessions, they had 13 turnovers and four missed shots without a rebound, as Oregon took a 29-4 lead early in the second quarter.
With a starting lineup of four seniors, it was sophomore Olivia Lambrigtsen getting the Hawks rolling with seven straight points for an 11-4 lead.
After that, one Oregon player after another took turns in the first-half spotlight, whether it was combining to go 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, grabbing 18 rebounds, or shooting 42 percent from the field.
“We definitely had the numbers advantages with all the seniors we have,” Oregon coach Kristy Eckardt said. “It didn’t take long for that to kick in.”
MyKenzie Beitel, a junior, came up big in the second quarter with six points, pacing Oregon to a 41-6 lead. Jessica Hunt had nine of her game-high 15 points in the same period.
“Everyone got involved,” Eckardt said. “We did a nice job of moving the ball around.”
With 2:26 left in the game, the largest roar of the night erupted and a sign went up from the Hawk side indicating Bailey Montavon had just recorded her 800th rebound.
“That’s impressive,” Eckardt said. “I don’t have stats from every year, but since I’ve been here [8 years], that’s 400 more than anyone else.”
Montavon had 12 points, Lambrigtsen scored 10, Hannah Donaldson added seven, and Beitel and Gylian Finch chipped in 6 each for Oregon.
The Hawks (12-17) play at 7:30 p.m. tonight against Byron (17-11). In an earlier matchup, the Tigers held on a for a last-minute win.
“I’m confident we can get Byron,” Eckardt said.