The Lebanon Warriors resumed their Mid-Willamette Conference schedule on Friday, Jan. 4 with a tough home contest against Silverton.
Throughout the first half, the Warriors struggled to build a lead against the aggressive Foxes. Then senior guard Maddy Romeo hit a three-pointer, followed by a second make from behind the arc.
That burst helped the Warriors build a 23-18 halftime advantage. After the break, Romeo hit three more 3-pointers in the third-quarter as the Warriors stretched their lead to 35-29, en route to a 44-32 victory.
"I've been waiting for that game for a while," said Romeo, who tallied a game-high 15 points.
Warriors coach Mardy Benedict said Romeo gained confidence during the team's trip to Gillette, Wyoming for a holiday tournament. Team members had been fundraising since the summer to raise the money for the trip. They flew to Wyoming for the three-day tournament and squeezed in a trip to Mt. Rushmore in neighboring South Dakota.
"She was awesome. That was something we talked about, with confidence, she's been getting better and better," Benedict said. "In Wyoming, she had a game where she started out cold and got hot. That's something we've needed from her."
Romeo said she has been working at reducing the pressure she feels during games. She focused on that during the holiday tournament and realized that as she became more relaxed she played better.
That helped against Silverton, especially after she struggle a bit during warm-ups.
"Pre-game I wasn't feeling that good. I just thought 'I'm getting out all the bad ones," Romeo said.
Senior post Ellie Croco added 12 points and five rebounds despite being limited by foul trouble in the first half.
While Croco was on the bench, Lebanon senior Morgan Hopkins held her own against Silverton's formidable front line. Hopkins finished with five points and a team-high nine rebounds.
"When she's out I have to step up a lot," Hopkins said.
Benedict was pleased with Hopkins' effort.
"Morgan stepped up. That's what she can do every night," Benedict said.
The Warriors held a six-point lead entering the final quarter and closed out the game with a strong defensive effort. Lebanon held the Foxes to just three points in the final frame.
"I'm super proud of the girls defensively. We stuck to the game plan, worked our tails off. I told them 32 minutes is what it's going to take. I though we played outstanding defensively," Benedict said.
The Warriors (7-3, 2-1 Mid-Willamette Conference) will host South Albany on Tuesday, Jan. 8 and Central on Friday, Jan. 11.
Benedict said the South Albany game will be a challenge.
"They're right in the mix. There's no down game in our league," Benedict said.