Indians win physical battle in opener

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Hononegah's Jordan King looks to pass against Huntley in the Indians' season opener Wednesday night.

HUNTLEY, Ill. - The next time Jordan King hits the basketball floor, odds are pretty strong she'll be wearing knee pads.

She thought she could get by without them Wednesday night in Hononegah's season opener at Huntley. Instead of the somewhat uncomfortable knee pads, she went with leggings.

She came out with bruised knees, ripped leggings and a team-high 15 points as the Indians rolled to a 69-38 victory.

King hit the floor at least 10 times as the Red Raiders employed a, shall we say, physical approach.

It's something the Marquette commitment might have to get used to this season.

"I just have to be strong, both physically and mentally to be prepared for that every night," King said. "I've seen that as the years have gone on. It's gotten progressively more physical. It's an adjustment I'll have to make this year."

Beyond King's 15 points, the Indians featured a balanced scoring attack. Senior Cali Schmitz finished with 13 points, Kiyah Abney had 10 including five in the first 33 seconds of the second half, and Julia Burns finished with nine points.

"I thought we played really hard, and that's something we expect out of everyone," King said. "Obviously it's the first game, and there are some things we've got to clean up and that's typical for any team. I definitely think we've improved a lot since last year. We have so many returning players that had varsity experience last year, and that's going to help us a lot."

It looked as though the Red Raiders were going to hang with the Indians early on. Hononegah led just 11-9 near the end of the first quarter before King scored the final three points of the period to make it 14-9 headed into the second quarter.

There, the Indians exerted their will, thanks in large measure to the success of their trademark full-court press. The Red Raiders didn't hit their first shot from the field until there was just 2:42 remaining in the first half. By then, Hononegah had accumulated a 24-12 lead. The advantage ballooned up to 37-21 at intermission, and Hononegah scored the first nine points of the second half to put the game away.

Abney, the junior guard, said the press was a key to the victory.

"Our 'black' press is to get into their heads, and the 'ball' press is to be effective," Abney said. "We always like to go to that first one, because normally teams get frazzled when they see us up in their face. And we have the depth to run it at a good pace. We've always been a pretty deep team, but this year I think coach (Randy) Weibel is comfortable putting anybody in at any time. It could be crunch time and our 10th person is just as capable as our seventh. It's going to be a good season."

The Red Raiders were led by their terrific sophomore Kamsi Nowgu, who scored 22 of their 38 points.

The Indians will face Algonquin Jacobs, again at Huntley High School, Friday at 7 p.m., then play Saturday and Tuesday to cap the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving Tournament.

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