Hard work pays off with win for Rockets

TOLONO — Two games into the girls’ basketball season, Unity High School had no tangible reward for its efforts.

“We’d played well, but when you play well it doesn’t always show in your overall record,” Unity coach Kelly Gallick said.

After Monday, the Rockets have played three solid games and they now have their first mark in the win column.

Behind the offensive exploits of senior Kennedy Hartman and sophomore Rebecca Maxwell (each 7 for 10 from the field), Unity opened Okaw Valley Conference play with a 64-14 triumph against short-handed Argenta-Oreana at the Rocket Center.

Hartman scored eight of her points in the first 21/2 minutes as Unity raced to a 14-0 lead, forcing A-O into 14 turnovers before its first point came on a Katlyn Gibson free throw.

“We’ll be a very good defensive team,” Hartman said. “We’ll push teams to the limit and wear them out.”

Without All-Area standout Kandie Bloch (sidelined with strep throat), A-O endured a first quarter of 16 turnovers and two field goal attempts.

“They are very quick and did a great job pressuring the ball,” Bombers coach Jeff Shumate said. “They kept coming and in the first quarter and the beginning of the third we shied away from the ball and gave them easy layups.”

Hartman scored a game-high 15 points. Maxwell — who scored 10 points in the first four minutes of the third period — added 14 points to go with her team-high nine rebounds.

“What we’re seeing with Kennedy is that her energy on defense generates offensive opportunities for her and her teammates,” Gallick said.

For Unity, the victory came at an ideal time.

“We felt we let two get away and needed momentum,” Gallick said. “I hope this is a confidence-builder. We’re doing things we hadn’t in the past.”

One of the keys was keeping the Bombers off the free throw line. In Unity’s two losses (by margins of four points and one point), the Rockets made more baskets but permitted more free throws.

“The last two games, we played hard but lost close games when fouls got in the way,” Hartman said. “Tonight, Coach said if we gave up over six fouls (in the second half) we’d have to run for it.”

Unity committed five second-half fouls.

The Rockets were without senior guard Joan Maxwell, who was injured last Tuesday and will undergo an MRI on her knee on Wednesday.

Gibson led A-O with nine rebounds. Kassidy Meador scored five points.

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