One of the final things Kevin Hackerott had yet to accomplish since reviving the Goddard girls basketball program was win a league championship.
With his first group of four-year seniors, Hackerott and the Lions clinched at least a share of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Div. II title after defeating Maize South 50-29 on Thursday.
Goddard improved to 15-3 and leads Maize South (11-7), Andover Central, and Valley Center by two games in league with two to play. Goddard also maintained its status as No.1 seed in its Class 5A sub-state, as it leads Maize by a half-game and Bishop Carroll by one game.
“League titles in the long run are probably relatively unimportant, but the one thing a league title shows is consistency over an entire season,” Hackerott said. “To be able to win that with this group is special and it’s fun to see their hard work pay off.”
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“We won five games our first year with coach (Hackerott) and we’ve just gotten better every year,” said senior Madison Smith. “Last year we missed winning league by one game, so this has been our No. 1 goal and we finally got it. Now we really want to win one more, so it can be just us.”
Goddard snapped Maize South’s four-game winning streak by overwhelming the Mavericks with an offensive flurry in the first half, as the usually methodical attack by Goddard produced a 30-8 halftime lead.
Senior guard Silvia Cortese was superb, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding eight rebounds and six assists, as the Italian exchange student added some flair to Goddard’s offense with no-look, one-handed passes and creative finishes on lay-ups.
“She’s a typical European: loves to play offense and she’ll play defense every once in a while,” Hackerott joked. “But boy, she can sure play offense.”
Cortese scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half, as Goddard scored the most points it has all season in a first half and finished with its third-highest scoring output of the season.
“Whenever she does something like go behind her back or between the legs, we know it’s going to be good,” Smith said. “We absolutely love playing with her.”
Consider the feeling mutual.
“It’s a great opportunity and I love playing basketball in Italy, but one of the reasons I wanted to come to the United States was because I love basketball and wanted to learn the culture,” Cortese said. “I love it here and I love my teammates. I’m happy.”
MAIZE SOUTH: S. Mortensen 11, A. Slaven 5, L. Johnson 4, M. McCormack 3, K. Miller 2, K. Dixon 2, G. Graham 2.
GODDARD: S. Cortese 19, M. Smith 9, T. Vang 9, S. Morrow 7, K. Hackerott 5, C. Wilhelm 1.