Calvary girls get second straight victory at new gym

Linn sophomore Erika Stefka (55) attempts to get past Calvary Lutheran senior Kara Wehmeyer (14) and freshman Sam Gumm (34) on Thursday night at Calvary’s new gym.

Linn sophomore Erika Stefka (55) attempts to get past Calvary Lutheran senior Kara Wehmeyer (14) and freshman Sam Gumm (34) on Thursday night at Calvary’s new gym. Katie Alaimo

The Calvary Lady Lions seem to like playing in their new gym.

But winning two games in a row on their home court isn’t the only reason Lady Lions coach Jonathan Kueck is feeling optimistic.

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“We’re really starting to play together as a team,” Kueck said after the Lady Lions claimed a 36-25 win against Linn on Thursday night in the first round of the Calvary Tournament. “The whole team is starting to gel. If someone isn’t shooting very well, if they’re not having a good night, then somebody else picks it up.

“We’re getting excited for what the rest of the season has to hold.”

The Lady Lions (2-5), who haven’t won a first-round game since the tournament was founded four years ago, will face the Iberia-Belle winner at 8 a.m. Saturday at home.

“Right now its fun to say we’re undefeated at our home court,” Kueck said. “It’s just two games, but still, it’s fun to say. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Kara Wehmeyer scored a game-high 13 points and pulled down 16 rebounds to lead the Lady Lions. Becca Thompson added eight points and Brooke Rollins chipped in seven for Calvary, which was 12-of-45 (26 percent) from the field and 10-of-21 from the free-throw line.

“Linn was tough with their man defense,” Kueck said. “They gave us a hard time. Ultimately, we were able to move the ball around for some open shots.”

More of those shots started to fall after Calvary closed out the first quarter with a 10-7 lead.

Wehmeyer hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Lady Lions a 16-9 advantage with 4:32 left in the second quarter and Calvary was able to control the tempo the rest of the way.

The Lady Lions, who claimed a 32-24 rebounding advantage, outscored Linn 9-4 in the second quarter to take a 19-11 lead into the break.

Playing with all freshmen and sophomores after losing six seniors from last year’s team, Linn’s inexperience started to show in the second half.

With its top three scorers on the bench in foul trouble, Linn (0-5) committed 15 turnovers in the third quarter and Calvary sank 7-of-11 free throws to take a 32-15 lead into the final period.

“That hurt us a lot,” Linn coach Renee Heider said. “We struggled to do a lot of things offensively with those guys sitting on the bench.”

The Lady Wildcats, who had not played in a month, outscored Calvary 10-4 in the final period, but it wasn’t enough.

Kirsten Steinbeck and Lyndsi Vaughan both scored seven points to lead Linn, which was 12-of-50 (24 percent) from the field and 1-of-5 from the charity stripe.

“We are not in shape,” Heider said. “I thought we got some decent shots off and had some good looks at the basket, but nothing was falling. In many instances, we weren’t even close. That could be from tired legs, too. We’ve got to work on getting back into shape and getting shots to fall.”

Linn will play the loser of Belle-Iberia at 8 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran.

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