VICTORIA — Joe Dortland and Samantha Leiker are two different styles of players.
Dortland earned the alias “Joey Downtown” for his 23-point performance, consisting of seven 3-pointers, in a 62-48 triumph against Stockton on Tuesday.
While Dortland’s flashy night is the type to be shown on highlight shows, Leiker was the star inside Victoria High School Gym on Tuesday. Just prior to Dortland taking the floor, Leiker repeatedly got to the free-throw line and dominated the paint to score a career-high 28 points in a 50-39 victory.
Leiker’s ability to work in the post with her left and right hands was on display all night and is a craft she has honed since a young age.
“I had a coach when I was younger who always taught us to shoot with our left hand on the left side,” Leiker said. “I always struggled with that, but I just kept practicing, kept practicing. Now, I think the practice is starting to show.”
It showed early and often as Leiker scored nine straight points in multiple facets. Twice Leiker received the ball in the post for an easy layup while also breaking away via a steal and layup. Leiker’s 3-pointer gave her nine points and lifted the Knights to an early 11-4 lead.
“I’ve preached that to Sam all week in practice. When she gives me that great speed, Sam can do anything on the floor,” said Victoria girls’ basketball coach Anne Dinkel. “I was very pleased with her play tonight. As a sophomore, she’s showing some good leadership out there with those younger girls, and I was pleased with her overall play.”
Four Tigers scored in the opening quarter to crawl to an 11-10 deficit after one.
The Knights’ second game of the season concluded with a six-point loss to these very Tigers. Leiker said the confidence in the team showed in practices leading up to Tuesday and ultimately lead to a 11-6 edge in the second quarter with points scored by six different players.
“We’ve been working and working because we knew it was a game we could win,” Leiker said. “We’ve just improved a lot and worked good as a team tonight. I think that really shows.”
The Knights excelled in the first half on fast-breaks and limiting the Tigers’ steals with the likes of Tiffany Dortland slowing play down when needed, leading Victoria to a 22-16 advantage at the break.
After 6-foot senior Julia Wagner scored early in the third quarter, she rescinded to the bench with her third foul, sending freshman Emily Schippers back into action in her first varsity game. The move allowed Leiker to move deeper into the post and put her speed and finesse to work, adding nine more points to her total in the quarter.
“I felt we had some girls come off the bench and give us huge minutes,” Dinkel said. “Emily Schippers got in there for us and did some great things. … I had seen that in that past two JV games, so I thought she’s gotta get in there tonight and help us out.”
Leiker’s domination continued in the fourth. Beginning with a 39-29 lead, Leiker scored Victoria’s next nine points, five coming from the free-throw line, as the Knights put the finishing touches on a 50-39 victory and 4-3 record.
“We were seeing the court all around,” Leiker said. “I think that helps; when we can see the court good, we work together good.”
Coming into the season, Dinkel’s goal for her fifth season as head coach was to see her girls work hard everyday and improve. Two months of grinding showed in grand fashion Tuesday.
“Tonight, the girls proved to me that we’ve really shined and have gotten a lot better. There’s a lot more time than to get even better than what we are right now.”
In the boys game, Joe Dortland started the season on the bench as he recovered from a shoulder injury suffered late in the football season. Finally back in action, Dortland sank six 3-pointers in the first half before adding a seventh in the final half to lead the Knights to a 62-48 victory.
He got his scoring going early by making his second three late in the first quarter to grab a 16-13 lead after one.
Dortland hit another to open the second before sinking three 3-pointers to jump ahead by 10 points as part of him scoring nine straight for Victoria. Stockton went into the half down 35-25, but the bruising of its players was more critical than the scoreboard.
In the final minute of the half, Kylar Williams and Kyle Hull each went down with leg injuries and did not return, forcing Stockton to play the second half without subs.
After making his final 3-pointer of the game early in the third, Dortland’s legs visibly became tired as most shots hit the front of the rim and missed, allowing Stockton to climb within five heading to the fourth.
Stockton cut the Victoria lead to four before Eric McAlonan scored eight of his 15 points to push the Knights to a 14-points win.
The Knights outscored the Tigers, 16-7, in the final quarter.
Both Victoria teams are back in action Friday on the road against Central Plains.