By Tyler Henry
Contributor Salina Post
After ending Sacred Heart’s six-game winning streak, Bennington’s women’s basketball team will face Valley Heights in the substate semifinals.
The Lady Bulldogs will enter this game 12-9 on aggregate while the Mustangs will enter as the No. 4 team in Class 2A at 19-2.
While Valley Heights will be heavily favored in this contest, the win over Sacred Heart did wonders for Bennington’s confidence.
“These are girls you want to face with you,” Bulldogs head coach Tracy Piepho said. “They believed in each other and went all the way and I was most proud of our mental strength. A win like that is important for our confidence going forward.
Bennington will have his work cut out against a Valley Heights team that has outscored opponents 58-33 on average this season.
“They’re very balanced and have great post play and good shooters around them,” Piepho said. “Our biggest challenge will be to shut down their publications and win them over from outside.”
Much of that inside damage has come from senior Emma Yungeberg this season, who has caught the eye of opposing defenses and paved the way for outside shooters like Catherine Toerber and Tayra L’Ecuyer.
Valley Heights’ only two losses this season have come at the hands of No. 1 Centralia in the 1ADI class, and to keep things close, Bennington will have to give up and take advantage of every opportunity for 32 minutes.
“We’ll have to bring our best defensive game, win every loose ball and grab every rebound,” Piepho said. “Our young guards have improved this season, but they’re going to have to go even bigger on Thursday and our big guys are going to have to play bigger than they’ve been all year.”
The tip between the Lady Bulldogs and Mustangs is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Republic County High School, with the winner moving on to the substate final to play either 8-12 Wabaunsee or 9-11 St. Mary’s, each of which hit the upheavals in the first round.
For continued Bennington coverage throughout the substate tournament, stay tuned to the Salina Post.