La CROSSE — The Leopards wanted a hot start.
MaKenzie Braun made sure that was the case.
The junior on the La Crosse High School girls’ basketball team did the majority of her damage in the first half Friday night as the Leopards rolled to a 59-22 victory over visiting Ness City.
“Against this team it was really nice because it was my old school,” Braun said about the quick start.
The Leopards, who won their fourth game in a row, used a tough full-court press to bewilder the Eagles en route to a 21-2 lead after the first quarter and a 41-12 lead at halftime.
“I think we’re working better as a team,” Braun said. “The more practices, the more bond we’re getting. We’re starting to peak, starting to get there.”
Braun scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the first half — including four 3-pointers.
“Everybody thought it would be a down year,” said La Crosse coach Nicholl Weigel. “But this group of girls comes in and works hard every single day, and they’re competitors. That makes it really nice. We have inside and outside. We have MaKenzie and Abbey that are able to shoot the outside ball, and we have Addie and Kate who are able to go inside.”
The Leopards dominated inside and outside. While Braun was doing damage from long range, senior Addie Kershner was working to perfection in the paint.
Kershner scored nine of her 17 points in the first quarter.
La Crosse nearly put two more players in double figures in sophomore Abbey Oborny (9) and sophomore Kate Rues (8).
“We’ve got really good posts and shooters,” Braun said.
“We knew tonight with it being our last home game for a little while that we had to get the win tonight because the next four games are tough for us,” Weigel said.
The Leopards led 55-19 entering the fourth quarter, which featured a running clock.
“Definitely going to take some toughness to get through that sub-state,” Weigel said. “Of course Central Plains is there, but you just never know. That’s why you play the game.”