Girls basketball: Dixon takes control from start to top Rock Falls

Dambman, Duchesses find rhythm early, roll past Rockets at Tabor Gym

Dixon’s Katie Drew makes a pass in traffic against Rock Falls Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Rock Falls High School.

ROCK FALLS – Looking for a fast start in a Big Northern Conference road game Wednesday night, Dixon found its rhythm right away.

Led by the lights-out shooting of Reese Dambman, the Duchesses built a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter and cruised past Rock Falls 52-32 at Tabor Gym to bounce back after a loss earlier in the week snapped a six-game winning streak.

“Monday, we had our first loss in a while, so we knew we really had to come out here and win. We wanted to come back strong after that loss and tried to put it to them,” Dambman said. “We have a lot of players that can shoot the ball really well, so whoever has the ball can get open and get hot. We just worked really well tonight.”

Dambman had the hot hand in this one, hitting five 3-pointers in the final 3:13 of the first quarter after Hallie Williamson scored the first seven points for Dixon (19-6, 6-2 BNC). Both finished with 19 points, and they accounted for 27 of the Duchesses’ 32 first-half points.

Dixon’s Reese Dambman puts up a three point shot against Rock Falls’ Autumn Weatherby Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Rock Falls High School.

Williamson was 4 for 4 in the opening quarter and shot 7 for 10 for the game while also pulling down five rebounds, dishing two assists, nabbing a steal and blocking a shot. Dambman was 5 for 7 in the first quarter – all from 3-point range – and finished the game with four rebounds, an assist and a steal.

“It’s just what the defense gave us. The goal is always to go inside, because we know that we have great posts on this team. But that’s just how it was working tonight,” Williamson said. “Once we start hitting outside, it makes it easier inside because they’re going to extend out more, and that means the defense is loosened up so I can bang in the paint and score those points.”

“Me and Hallie worked together really well,” Dambman added. “She knew if there were two people on her, she could kick it out for me, and she trusted me to make that shot. I’m glad I was hitting them.”

Dixon’s Hallie Williamson works against Rock Falls’ Autumn Weatherby Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Rock Falls High School.

The Rockets (8-21, 2-5 BNC) led 6-5 after Claire Bickett scored inside and Elizabeth Lombardo buried a 3 with 3:54 left in the first quarter. But Williamson scored inside off a pretty post feed from Katie Drew to retake the lead, then Dambman hit the first of five consecutive 3s from the corner, brushing the backboard to bank it in for a 10-6 lead with 3:13 left in the period.

Dixon went on a 26-5 run over the final 3:43 of the first quarter and the opening 3:29 of the second to take a 31-11 lead with 4:31 left in the first half. The Duchesses led by at least a dozen points the rest of the way.

“Once we got the lead, our defense was strong,” Williamson said. “We have our freshman Ahmyrie [McGowan] put that ‘Raider’ defense on and bring that pressure, so it’s hard for them to keep their offense going on their end.”

Dixon’s Ahmyrie McGowan goes for a steal against Rock Falls’ Claire Bickett Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Rock Falls High School.

Trailing 40-23 in the final two minutes of the third quarter, Bickett put back her own miss underneath, then hit a free throw before scoring on her own putback again early in the fourth to cut the Rock Falls deficit to 42-30 with 5:45 remaining.

“We have very few girls, so just kind of keeping up and staying in the game is key. We all know we’re going to play the whole game, so we just settled in and started to slow it down a little bit and commit fewer turnovers,” Bickett said. “We had a couple of girls out, so it’s been tough without our usual lineup. We had to switch a little on defense; we typically play a little bit more man-to-man, so it just took us awhile to get comfortable, and they hit a lot of shots at the beginning.”

Drew finished with four points, five rebounds and four assists, and Makenzie Toms added three points and three rebounds for Dixon. McGowan, Addy Lohse and Bailey Tegeler each scored two points, and McGowan also had three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Jessie Pitman pulled down six rebounds and blocked a shot for the Duchesses.

Rock Falls’ Autumn Weatherby and Dixon’s Jessie Pitman go up for a rebound Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at Rock Falls High School.

Bickett led the Rockets with 12 points and four assists, and she also had four rebounds and blocked a shot. Lombardo hit three 3s for nine points to go with two rebounds, two steals and an assist, and Autumn Weatherby added eight points and seven rebounds. Taylor Reyna grabbed six rebounds and Nicolette Udell chipped in five boards, and each blocked a shot.

“They absolutely made things tough for us. We were limited on the bench, missing a couple of key players that could help us out, and I just thought if we can waste a little bit of time, move the ball and be patient, we can limit their possessions,” Rock Falls coach Dan Herrera said. “But when their 3-point shooter got loose out wide, we didn’t do a very good job of communicating that switch or even that defensive reversal, and unfortunately she hit some big shots and they kind of put us behind the eight ball really fast.”