When it comes to Van Horn girls sports, it was hard to mention Chase Siedlik without talking about Karli Schnakenberg.
The two not only run together on the Falcons cross country team, they were a formidable backcourt duo for the Van Horn basketball squad the last three years and other team has to game plan for the two sharpshooters.
However, an injury Schnakenberg suffered during a soccer game has forced her to miss the first 10 games of the 2017-18 season. Head coach A.B. Lennox had to find a replacement.
Enter Daisy Washington.
The sophomore has been a pleasant surprise for the Falcons and she showed why in Friday’s non-conference game at Oak Grove. Washington scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, sinking six 3-pointers and adding nine rebounds and two steals to lead the Falcons to a 57-44 win.
“Honestly, I am not going to lie, she’s really surprised me this year,” Siedlik said of Washington. “I thought she was going to still be that scared freshman. But she’s really come out and stepped up and done a really good job of filling that varsity role.
“Our chemistry has improved immensely. We used to just see each other in the hallway and say hi. Now she is someone I can have a real conversation with and I can talk to on and off the court. It’s just like having a sister on the court with you.”
Washington certainly didn’t look like a scared freshman against the Panthers. Any time she caught the ball behind the arc, she shot it without hesitation.
“We just go over our shooting technique in practice and just practice, practice, practice,” Washington said. “Coach just tells me. ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot.”
Washington played varsity last year, but this is her first year starting. She appeared to specialize in the 3-pointer Friday despite her shot being a little flatter than the average player. But it works for her.
“I’ve been trying to get her to bring it up, but she shoots it flat,” Lennox said. “She’s stepped in the (starting guard) role really well and picked it up. Last year, when Chase and Karli went down, she stepped it up. She’s scored 20-plus for us the last three games.”
She got some help from freshman teammate Alexiana Robinson, who hit a couple of 3-pointers and scored all eight of her points in the first half to assist the Falcons in taking a 13-7 first-quarter lead and pushing the advantage to 29-17 at halftime, which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Siedlik.
“She’s a really good player who is in the process of learning,” Lennox said of Robinson. “When she understands the game, she is going to be outstanding for us. Right now, she helps us on the offensive and defensive side of things.”
Van Horn (7-3) kept the lead at double digits for the entire third quarter and went into the fourth up 42-32. At one point Oak Grove was able to cut the lead to single digits midway through the fourth after forward Lilli Weir sank a turnaround shot in the paint, making it 52-44. Siedlik, who had nine points, hit five of her last six free throws to seal it, however.
“Credit to Van Horn, they were really good tonight,” Oak Grove coach Jared Broughton said. “Their guards were exceptional and shot it really well. They handled our pressure and we could never really rattle them. They stretched it on us in the second quarter and we were never really able to come back.”
Weir and Summer Collier led Oak Grove (4-8) with 11 points apiece.