Merle Wiehl made history Monday night as the sophomore poured in 28 points to break the 36-year-old career scoring record in helping the Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team win their sixth straight with a 64-53 victory over Casper College at Cougar Palace.
Wiehl needed just five points coming into the contest and the 6-foot-1 wing player did not waste any time at all in setting the new school record by scoring the first five points of the contest. The old record of 1,026 points was held by Penny (Mallett) Dressor, who now lives in Windsor, Colorado. Dressor played for WNCC in 1981-1983.
Wiehl said when she came to WNCC, she never thought twice about any records.
“I am happy right now because we got a big-time win for us and obviously breaking this record is an amazing feat,” Wiehl of Gottingen, Germany, said. “I never thought coming here in the first place I would never be able to talk about stuff like that, so it is just great and I am happy. But I couldn’t have done it without the teammates I had over the past two years.”
Wiehl is one of those players that doesn’t look at numbers and didn’t realize that she was close to even scoring 1,000 points or the school record.
“Before the last three games I never knew about any records,” she said. “I am glad I did it but I am not thinking about any of those any more. I am just trying to play every game like I do. Obviously I want to keep scoring and winning, so if that means extending the record, that would be great.”
Dressor said she is shocked that her record has stood for 36 years, but congratulated Wiehl on the feat.
“I am very honored to have held the scoring record for 35 years. Considering the progress of women’s basketball over the years, I am quite shocked that there are only two players to have passed 1,000 points,” the former record holder said. “Congratulations Merle! Enjoy every second of this night and light up that scoreboard.”
Wiehl’s night included going 10 of 19 from the field, including six 3-pointers. She also had four rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Wiehl said she had a hint that she broke the record on her lay-up with just under three minutes in the game elapsed, but it wasn’t until the time out and the public announcer made it official as she was then taken out of the game with applause from the crowd.
“Yes, I knew I had the record, but I wasn’t thinking about it in the game,” Wiehl said. “I knew it for sure in the timeout when it was announced and I went, ‘Ok’. I was happy I got it. I really didn’t feel any pressure, but I knew it was off my chest because people were talking about it. I am just happy with the support from the community and it is great to say I have the school record here for now.”
Wiehl said while she had 28 points and set the school record, she still has one thing to worry about after the season and that might be the biggest thing on her chest – where she will continue her playing. Monday night there were two Division I coaches in attendance watching Merle.
“That is going to be a tough decision for me and I am still undecided,” she said. “But I want to take my time and after the season is over I will go on visits.”
Monday night will be a memorable time for Wiehl and the Cougar fans as it was a classic WNCC and Casper defensive contest. Both teams had just two players in double figures. It was also a night where neither team shot the ball well. WNCC shot just 34 percent from the field and 9-of-30 from beyond the arc.
What won the game for the Cougars was their defense. WNCC held Casper to 36 percent shooting and just 3 of 15 from 3-point range. The defensive effort Monday night was a marked difference from January 7 when Casper topped the Cougars 83-63.
Wiehl said the defense was locked in.
“Defense was definitely the key for us to win tonight,” she said. “We only shot like 34 percent tonight so being locked in on defense and holding them to 53 points was really good. We did exactly what we wanted to do. We know if we defend well, we can get out running and get our shots up. That was definitely the key to the win tonight.”
WNCC never trailed in the contest. Wiehl got the scoring started by hitting a trey just 26 seconds into the contest. Wiehl then hit a driving layup with 7:34 to play to break the record and give the Cougars a 5-1 lead. WNCC kept playing strong in the first quarter as Wiehl nailed a trey to give the Cougars a 17-9 lead after one quarter.
WNCC opened up a 25-9 lead to start the second on a Yuliyana Valcheve trey and then four points from Wiehl. Valcheva and Wiehl then had a couple more buckets for a 27-11 lead. WNCC built the lead to 37-19 and led 39-23 at halftime.
The second half saw Casper outscore WNCC 30-25, but the Thunderbirds never could get the lead cut to single digits.
WNCC had two players in double figures. Wiehl led all scorers with 28 followed by Valcheva with 15. Valcheva also led on the glass with six rebounds.
Wiehl now has 1,050 points and the Cougars still have nine regular season games to go. WNCC, 18-3, will be back in action Wednesday when they travel to Norfolk to face Northeast Community College. WNCC will then return home for a Sunday Region IX South contest against Trinidad State with a new start time of noon followed by the men’s game at 2 p.m.
Casper (17-5) 9 14 19 11 – 53
WNCC (18-3) 17 22 15 10 – 64
Bailey Johnson 2, Nerea Baena 10, Jukia Kucko 2, Maggie Justinak 6, Ashley Tehau 6, Jaye Johnson 4, Lucie Hoskova 15, Reka Soos 8.
Tishara Morehouse 5, Merle Wiehl 28, Allysah Boorth 6, R’Manie Pulling 4, Eva Langton 1, Yuliyana Valcheva 15, Taylor Joplin 3, Yaidelis Torres 2.