Regina Clamps Down on Koenig, Pulls Away From West Branch

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Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

WEST BRANCH – The Regina coaching staff has been known to cook up a sophisticated defensive game plan or two when the occasion warrants.

The defensive theme for the Regals couldn’t have been simpler for Friday’s matching with River Valley Conference rival West Branch – stop Tatum Koenig.

“It’s not rocket science,” Regina coach Jeff Wallace said of his defensive approach. “She is such a talent we just had to try to make her shots as tough as possible.”

The plan is simple in theory but difficult, if not impossible to pull off.

After a slow start Class 2A sixth-ranked Regina executed that plan to perfection after halftime while pulling away for 53-36 win over West Branch (3-4, 2-4 RVC) in a RVC South Division tilt.

Koenig had a game-high 18 points but scored just two in the second half as Regina (6-2, 6-1 RVC) outscored the Bears 26-12 in the final two quarters.

Alex Wiese had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Kennedy Wallace added 13 points as Regina won its fifth straight game.

“Koenig was scoring a lot on us so we had to lock down on her, double team her and just try to keep her from getting to the basket,” Regina junior Alex Wiese said. “That was our big game plan to keep her from scoring and in the second half we did that.”

How good as Koenig been this season?

The 5-foot-7 Koenig season guard entered Friday night third in the state in scoring at 26 points per game, was coming off a 27-point performance on Tuesday and already has a pair of 30-point games.

Koenig was on pace for another huge night, going 6-of-11 from the field in a 16-point first half that ended with Regina leading 27-24.

After halftime Regina turned up the defense and locked down on Koenig and the Bears.

“They really pressured us and turned up the tempo on defense and we struggled a lot more,” Koenig said. “I thought I could have handled that better.”

Koenig was just 1-of-7 from the floor after halftime as Regina pulled away.

The only basket of the second half for Koenig was a driving layup with 4:17 left in the third quarter that cut the Regina lead to 32-28.

Regina scored the next five points, all from senior guard Alexa Lehman to push the lead to 37-28 and never let the Bears get closer than six points the rest of the way.

“There was no real adjustment we just had to put more focus on containing Tatum,” Wallace said. “We felt like if we held her to around 20 points we’d be fine we just couldn’t have her go off for 30 or 40 points. We just had to contain her and make it as tough as possible.”

After making 7-of-13 field goal attempts and scoring 16 points in the opening quarter West Branch shot 23 percent from the field the rest of the way and didn’t score more than eight points in a quarter.

The Bears were 1-of-8 from 3-point range in the second half while shooting 26 percent from the field.

“Our defense as a whole was better the second half,” Wiese said. “The first half we weren’t communicating as well and we just stepped up the talking in the second half.”

Koenig was the only West Branch player in double figures while freshman Taya Young added nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

The rest of the team was a combined 3-of-18 from the field.

“That’s what I told the girls tonight is we need some other people to step up,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “We’ve leaned on Tatum for seven games now and we have to get something from other people and that starts with being confident and being strong with the ball and making something happen.”

Meanwhile, Regina got contributions from all over the court.

Lehman and fellow senior guard Greyson Dumont each had nine points and combined to go 7-of-9 from the field.

Seven different Regals scored on Friday as Regina shot 54 percent including 7-of-15 from 3-point range.  

“I think right now our team chemistry is unbelievable,” Wallace said. “These kids are sharing the basketball they are playing with each other really well, our energy has just been really good.”

West Branch              16   8    7    5   –  36

Regina                       12  15  15  11  –  53

West Branch (36) – Abbey Fryauf 0-1 0-0 0, Riley Vaughan 0-1 0-0 0, Kaiya Luneckas 0-1 0-0 0, Tatum Koenig 7-18 2-2 18, Taylor Thein 1-6 0-0 3, Taya Young 4-7 0-0 9, Sasha Koenig 1-6 1-2 4, Mackenzie Heise 1-3 0-0 2, Team 14-43 3-4 36.

Regina (53) – Alexa Lehman 4-5 0-0 9, Lauren Gaarde 1-3 0-0 2, Greyson Dumont 3-4 1-1 9, Kennedy Wallace 5-8 0-0 13, Maeve Dunne 1-3 0-0 3, Anna Martin 1-4 0-4 2, Alex Wiese 7-14 1-2 15, Team 22-41 2-7 53.

3-point field goals – WB (Vaughan 0-1, T. Koenig 2-6, Thein 1-5, Young 1-1, S. Koenig 1-6); ICR 7-15 (Lehman 1-2, Gaarde 0-1, Dumont 2-3, Wallace 3-5, Dunne 1-2, Wiese 0-2). Rebounds – WB 24 (T. Koenig 6); ICR 29 (Wiese 11). Turnovers – WB 15; ICR 14. Total fouls – WB 11; ICR 11. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.