Photo Gallery | Wahconah girls basketball takes down Monument Mountain at home
DALTON — The Wahconah girls basketball team hadn't played at home in over a month entering Tuesday's game against Monument Mountain. To celebrate their return, the Warriors put up a season-high in points to post a 67-48 win over the Spartans at Ed Ladley Gymnasium.
Junior Lily Pudlo scored a team-high 21 points and added 21 rebounds to power the Warriors (8-4, 2-2) over the Spartans (5-7, 1-3). Her efforts were needed as Monument standout Anika Helmke went for the game-high of 24 points — although the Monument sophomore was held to just five free throws in the second half.
"[Pudlo is] just such a good kid, and she works so hard," Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. "I know she hasn't had the season thus far that she's wanted to have, so to see her excel when she's worked this hard is great to see."
Wahconah used a steady approach to see off their Berkshire County North opponent. Wahconah led by six after one, then upped the lead to 11 after the second quarter, kept the 11-point advantage through three, then hit the jets in the fourth to post the blowout win.
"[Wahconah] shot well and we didn't defend, that's a bad combination," Monument coach Steve Soule said. "They played harder than we did. We didn't rebound, we didn't defend and we didn't shoot well."
Pudlo scored 14 in the first half to pace the Warriors early, then in the second half she turned to the glass, recording 13 of her 21 boards in the final 16 minutes. She did work on both ends, hauling in nine offensive boards — three of which she put right back up for a basket.
The play that defined Pudlo's night, and the difference in energy between the two teams, came in the fourth. With Wahconah leading 56-40, Pudlo pulled down a defensive rebound, hit her outlet pass, then busted back down the court where she scooped up an offensive rebound and went straight back up for the bucket.
"I just get excited and I jump as high as I can," Pudlo said of her efforts on the glass. "That's just kind of my thing."
Pudlo was not alone, though, in the scoring department. Two other players — Kenna McIlquham (16 points) and Ashley Zink (10 points) — also hit double figures in the win, and Wahconah had four-or-more girls score in the second, third and fourth quarters.
"I think it was just the energy," Pudlo said of the offensive output. "We pushed the ball really well tonight. Everyone was kind of high-energy level, and I think that just contributed to everyone's success."
It also helped the Wahconah was back in front of the home faithful. The team's last home game was on Dec. 18 against Hampshire. But Kay noted that she wasn't sure what to expect when her team took the court — Wahconah was 0-2 at home before the nine-game road swing saw them go 7-2.
"I wasn't sure I wanted to come home," Kay said. "I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, we go on the road Friday, but now we settle in a little bit, which is great."
Helmke was the driving force for Monument. In the first half, she scored 19 of her team's 26 points, scoring from all over the floor to try and give the Spartans life. Monument's next highest scorer in the game was Hailey Higgins, who scored seven.
In the second half, Helmke found it tough sledding to continue the production — something Kay attributed to her team's defense.
"Anika was defending [Pudlo] on our end, but [McIlquham] was the one that was on Helmke the whole time," Kay said. "Kenna, I know Anika scored a bunch of points, but boy did she work hard for them. .. Kenna just did a phenomenal job."
Zink added five assists to her points haul, and Emmy Cote finished with six points and four assists. For Monument, Helmke finished with a double-double, adding 10 rebounds, and Higgins had four assists. Wahconah's previous high for points in a game was 64 on Dec. 20 at Frontier.
Monument plays next on Friday at home against Drury, while Wahconah travels to Cheshire on Friday to face Hoosac Valley.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN (48)
Powell 2-0-4, Cormier 1-0-2, Higgins 3-0-7, Ha. Hassett 2-0-5, Dupont 2-0-5, Helmke 7-8-24, McLaughlin 0-0-0, Rada 0-0-0. Totals 17-8-48.
McMahon 2-1-6, Zink 4-1-10, McIlquham 7-1-16, Cote 1-4-6, Pudlo 9-3-21, O'Connor 3-0-8, Dougherty 0-0-0, Gagliardi 0-0-0, Gamberoni 0-0-0, Brennan 0-0-0. Totals 26-10-67.
3-point goals — MM 6 (Helmke 2, Dupont, Ha. Hassett, Higgins, Cormier), W 5 (O'Connor 2, McMahon, Zink, McIlquham).