JOHNSONBURG – Aided by effective scoring early on from the starting five, St. Marys (1-0) won the season opener last night in Johnsonburg (0-1) with a 66-45 victory.
The Lady Dutch were powered by senior guard Kayla Hoohuli whose 23 points paced both teams and set her just 26 points shy of the 2,000-point milestone for her high school basketball career.
The standout also finished with 17 rebounds on the night to go with five steals and two blocks.
"That's a good game, especially for it being the start of the season," said St. Marys head varsity girls basketball coach Bob Swanson following the win.
Kayla Hoohuli was complemented by sophomore guard Adair Gennocro, whose three treys led all scorers, and junior guard Jenna Anderson, who contributed 11 to the winning effort. Freshman forward Kayla Hoohuli also started the game and finished with eight points.
"For it being the first game, I really wasn't happy with our overall execution, I thought we had some rough moments," Swanson said. "What I did like was that we showed that we have players who can score.
"I was happy with our seniors out there and I thought we shot the ball rather well but on the other hand, we weren't guarding anyone very well. Kayla [Hoohuli] played a great game for having two people on her."
The Dutch jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead after Kayla Hoohuli dropped a trey midway through the first quarter. An Anderson 3-pointer later upped the score to 12-4 near the three-minute mark.
The Ramettes cut the lead to within six points before St. Marys went on a 9-0 run which carried over into the second quarter to take a 25-10 advantage.
A field goal and 3-pointer from Johnsonburg's Dani Jo Dwyer cut the lead to 37-22 at halftime as the home team faced a 15-point deficit.
But the Lady Dutch stormed out in the second half with a 12-0 run to take a 49-22 lead after a Gennocro 3-pointer at the four-minute mark of the third quarter put the game out of reach.
Despite the 21-point loss Friday night, Johnsonburg head girls varsity basketball coach Mike Zilkofski said he told his players not to judge themselves after their first game of the year.
"With the situation that was in hand, we just have to keep our heads up," Zilkofski said. "There are some things that we have to work on and next time we play them, we'll know what to do-- Dani [Dwyer] will know what to do against [Kayla Hoohuli], you just have to cover her since she's a force all over the court.
"We have a few things to do on offense and [sophomore point guard] Rhianon [Fowler] has to stay out of foul trouble."
Fowler quickly racked up four fouls midway through the second quarter and did not return until midway through the fourth quarter with the game's outcome already decided.
St. Marys outscored Johnsonburg 14-2 in the third quarter to carry a 51-24 lead into the fourth quarter on the road.
"Overall, I didn't think our defense was that bad early on in the game until we started rotating," Swanson said. "We pushed the ball well, we're a quick team and we want to run, and I thought we did that well. The team that executes and does the fundamentals well, that's the team that will more than likely win.
"I thought we worked pretty hard but when I'm watching the game, I'm looking for the execution, it seems like the good things go right by me."
Hoohuli closed out her night with four points in the fourth quarter but struggled at the free-throw line with an uncharacteristic 3-for-9 showing, a trend that was consistent with both teams.
"Free-throw shooting [last night] was terrible and there's no excuse for that, that's something that we work on every night and if you get in close games and shoot foul shots like that, you're going to lose," Swanson said.
The Lady Dutch were 7-for-15 on the night while Johnsonburg also converted less than 50 percent.
"We went to the triangle, we double-teamed [Kayla Hoohuli] but for the poor aspects of the game, our foul shooting was bad so we'll have to work on that," Zilkofski said. "We were 1-for-8 or 1-for-10 at halftime, so we'll have to work on that."
Despite the double-digit defeat, Zilkofski said he was able to pull away some positive signs to build on in the near future.
"For the first game, I thought that even though Dani [Dwyer] is new at the position since taking over for [2009-2010 graduate] Anna Polaski, she did well and now she knows," Zilkofski said. "It's always tough to go against a team that has someone like [Kayla] Hoohuli. If we keep her below 30 points, that's pretty good, we held her under her average for last year, so that's a plus for us.
"[Kayla Hoohuli] is just the type of player that will go to the basket and we have to stop, and pick up, and to judge our overall performance more or less, our defense played well."
Swanson also had praise for the young Johnsonburg team.
"I think Johnsonburg is very athletic, very quick, and they play hard," Swanson said. "They're not afraid to go after us at all but overall, I was happy with our performance.
"Everybody looks at our roster and they see Kayla [Hoohuli] and four seniors, but I'm only starting a sophomore, a junior, a freshman and two seniors. I'm not exactly sure how good or bad we are at this point."
St. Marys will play host to Cameron County Tuesday with junior varsity action starting at 6 p.m. while the Ramettes play host to visiting Bradford on Monday with junior varsity action also starting at 6 p.m.
St. Marys 66
Kayla Hoohuli 9 3-9 23, Adair Gennocro 5 1-2 14, Jenna Anderson 4 1-2 11, Kiana Hoohuli 4 0-0 8, Mandy Gerarge 2 0-0 4, Abbey Cribbs 0 2-2 2, Rachel Walker 1 0-0 2, Shelby Zomcik 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 7-15 66.
Justis Myers 7 3-6 18, Chelsea Benson 3 0-0 6, Dani Dwyer 2 0-4 6, Brittany Watts 2 1-1 5, Rhianon Fowler 1 1-2 3, Taylor Harvey 1 0-0 2, Kassa Kocjancic 0 2-2 2, Kiana Myers 1 0-2 2, Kathryn Polaski 0 0-1 0. Totals 17 7-18 45.
Three-pointers: St. Marys: Gennocro 3, Anderson 2, Ka. Hoohuli 2. Johnsonburg: Dwyer 2, J. Myers.
Score by quarters
St. Marys 17 20 14 15 66
Johnsonburg 10 12 2 21 45