If anyone had any doubts about how much Katie Salmon means to the Red Raiders, check out the box score of Wauwatosa East's 59-53 win at West Allis Central on March 1.
Salmon, back from an ankle injury, tossed in 22 points, scoring 10 baskets and going 2-for-3 from the free-throw line to spark the victory.
Her return put a smile on coach Rob Hamill's face.
"It really was great to finally get everyone back to health," Hamill said. "I think things really came together well because of that. We had practiced well leading up to Thursday in large part because people who had been nicked up, finally felt fully strong and had lots of energy. I think we fed off that right up and through Thursday."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-10 first-quarter lead, but Tosa East battled back to cut the deficit to 26-23 at intermission. The Red Raiders then went on a 16-10 tear in the third quarter for a 39-36 lead going into the final period. They continued to outplay Central (20-17) the rest of the game.
Mehryn Kraker (18 points) and Claire Hankins (16) led Central. Leading the way for Tosa East was Salmon, as having her able to fully return to form from her ankle injury was a total lift for the team. Her 22 points and 11 rebounds were the key to the win.
But others had significant contributions as well - Alayah Walls, Lydia Taylor and Emily Jensen.
"Alayah has really been seeing the floor well lately and making the kinds of decisions with the ball we need from her," Hamill said about his junior point guard. "When it is all said and done her assist total from this season should put her in our top-10 all-time in a season. Combined that with her usual strong defensive effort, she did really well for us."
Taylor (13 points) and Jensen (11 points) were hitting mid-range jumpers.
"When they do that and we have the passing of Walls and the penetration ability of Salmon we are tough to beat," Hamill said. "Taylor hit some free throws late in fourth quarter to seal it and that combined with the execution of our defensive strategy for the game is what really made it happen."
Hamill was beaming afterward.
"It was simply the best game I have been associated with in a long time," he said. "A quality win over a quality opponent for a group that has really stayed positive and worked through some adversity this season.
"Now the goal is to keep it rolling right into the playoffs."
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