And they did not disappoint, posting a 63-39 victory over Tiffin Columbian.
Prior to tipoff, the teams recognized local athletic trainer Monica Nickoli, who suffers breast cancer, and dedicated the game to her.
Norwalk coach Brock Manlet gave the nod and started all five of his seniors — Jiselle Thomas, Caila Case, Adrianna Rodriguez, Mya Ray and Eboni Barbee.
“They’re the winningest senior class in the history of Norwalk High School Lady Truckers basketball, so I think that says everything you need to know,” Manlet said. “Good kids, they work hard. They’ve done a lot for our program and have gotten us to where we’re respected all over the place. I’m proud of the hard work that they put in and happy that we are able to come out here and give them a win on their last night on their home floor.”
The Tornadoes opened the game with a layup to take a 2-0 lead, however, after that it was all Truckers. Jiselle Thomas put Norwalk on the board with a three-pointer, putting an end to Columbian’s lead for the remainder of the game.
The Truckers obtained a 16-8 advantage by the end of the quarter, thanks largely to Thomas, who put up 10 of her 20 points in the period.
Norwalk took a 33-14 lead into halftime.
In the second half the Tornadoes were able to keep things a lot closer, as they were only outscored by five points.
The Truckers was hard on the press for virtually all four quarters and it paid off with 26 turnovers. Harkness led the way with six steals. The Truckers turned the ball over just 10 times.
“That was our game plan. We thought that we had an advantage there and I give the girls credit. They did a nice job of staying in front of people and then we were very active on the back side and getting our hands into passing lanes. I thought once we got steals we were able to share the ball well and get some run outs.”
Speaking of about sharing the ball, the Truckers had 10 players in the scoring book. To go with her 20 points, Jiselle Thomas also grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists. Harkness scored 10 points and dished out three assists. Leah Malson scored eight points and Jasmine Thomas added five. Jada Thomas, Bethany Cring and Lauryn Maloney each put up four points.
“(Kaelyn) always give me good effort defenisvely, but when she scores and she shoots the ball, it gives us another dimension and it makes us that much harder to guard. She had a nice night tonight. I’m proud of her and I’m hoping that her offense is coming around and getting more consistent.”
Manlet was very impressed with Jada Thomas’s effort on the defensive end of the floor.
“That’s her role. She’s a great rebounder, first of all. She puts forth relentless effort. She’s a little undersized to play the post, but her work ethic and energy kind of makes up for that. She does a nice job of keeping rebounds alive and giving us second chances,” Manlet said.
With just one game remaining in the regular season — an NOL contest at Ontario — the Truckers are getting primed and ready for the postseason.
“I think the last five games we’ve played pretty well. I think we’re playing our best basketball all season and things are starting to click a little more. We’re starting to get more consistent effort night in and night out. We’ve still got another big one to play against Ontario. We’ll be ready to play that one and then sharpen some things up before we go into the tournament,” Manlet said.
T. Columbian 39
Fry 1-0-3; Dryfuse 6-0-12; Jones 4-2-11; Roof 1-0-2; Brisendine 4-0-11. Totals 16-2-39.
Cring 2-0-4; Harkness 4-0-10; Maloney 2-0-4; Jada Thomas 2-0-4; Jasmine Thomas 2-1-5; Geretz 1-1-3; Barbee 1-0-2; Jiselle Thomas 9-0-20; Case 1-0-3; Malson 3-2-8. Totals 27-4-63.
T. Columbian 8 6 13 12 — 39
Norwalk 16 17 16 14 — 63