R-S 55, Gilbert 41
The Roland-Story girls posted a huge victory over their rival Gilbert last Tuesday night (Jan. 28) 55-41, and they did it on Senior Night no less. "It’s always nice to beat your friendly rival, but to do it on senior night was something special," said an elated Coach Justin Morton. The victory avenged a tough 29-28 loss back on December 17.
The first half saw Gilbert’s defense come out focused and ready to play, as they made it tough on the Norsemen’s top scorer Natalie Vance. Natalie wasn’t able to get many good looks, so she resorted to more penetration down the lane. That allowed the Norsemen to utilize their other players on the floor, as the perimeter was left open for the other shooters. Brittany Hammes was one of those who benefited, as she stepped up and hit some big shots in the first half that kept the Norse in the game. Taylor Olson was also a force, crashing the boards for 12 rebounds on the night, including seven on the offensive end. Several of those offensive caroms came in the first half.
"Taylor’s effort on the boards in the first half got us some easy looks at the basket and also helped to keep us in the game," said Morton.
The Norse fell behind 16-13 at the quarter break and still trailed at halftime, 29-27. Defensively, the R-S girls struggled for most of the first half, as Gilbert regularly went down low to their post player. "We were doing a poor job with our help defense on the weak side and that let them get way too many easy looks at the rim," stated Morton.
As the second half unfolded, Gilbert was forced to defend the Norse girls closer on the perimeter. They also had to stay tight on the R-S post position in order to prevent the home team from grabbing too many offensive rebounds. This allowed the Norsemen to drive the lane and enabled them to penetrate much easier.
Natalie Vance did a great job of taking advantage of the defensive shift by the Tigers, as she scored 17 of her 23 points after the break. By the end of the third quarter, the Norsemen had assumed a 37-32 advantage; holding the Tigers to just three points in the period. As the fourth quarter progressed, the Norse girls pulled away, outscoring their visitors 18-9 in the final frame. In the end, the Norsemen held the Tigers to just 12 second half points as their defense really stepped up.
"Our defense in the second half was outstanding," commented Morton. "We made an adjustment that took away Gilbert’s basket cuts when the ball went into the post. Our rebounding was also outstanding throughout the game. We out-rebounded Gilbert 34-13 for the game. Our ability to get extra shots on the offensive end due to our rebounding and limiting Gilbert to one shot and out on the defensive end was a huge factor in our win."
Behind Vance’s 23 points, Brittany Hammes came in with nine points. Taylor Olson posted eight points and Alexa Whipple scored seven points. Brooke Staker added five points and Kirsten Waline posted three points. Lexi Crutchfield grabbed nine rebounds, while Vance managed seven boards. The Norse had one of their best nights at the free throw line this season, hitting 19 of 23. Hilary Mosiman led Gilbert (13-7) with 13 points.
"I was extremely proud of our girls for the way they fought throughout the second half," concluded Morton. "I think the win came down to us just wanting it more and playing every possession in the second half to the best of our ability."
R-S 67, Colfax-Mingo 24
Colfax-Mingo was out-matched against the Norsemen (8-9) on Friday night (Jan. 31) on"Pink Out" Night in Story City. Coming into the game, C-M was only 1-15, so the match up appeared to be an easily winnable game for the home team. Coach Morton came out and tried a few new schemes that maybe will come in handy in the post season. They did some "man pressing" that the Norse really hadn’t tried all season. But from the outset, despite leading 20-10 at the quarter break and 40-18 at intermission, Coach Morton wasn’t entirely pleased with the girls’ effort in the first half.
"To start the game we did a poor job of moving our feet and using our hands way too much on defense," he said. "As a result we gave C-M some easy looks at the basket and put them on the free throw line way too much, allowing them 18 points in the first half."
In the second half, the Norse clamped down on Colfax-Mingo, limiting them to just six total points after the break. By the end of the third quarter the score read 57-22 in favor of the Norsemen. A 10-2 advantage by R-S in the final quarter sealed the victory.
"We did a much better job defensively of moving our feet,"stated Morton. "Offensively, we worked on a lot of our different sets and offenses. We did a good job of finding the open girl in both the half court offense and in transition. I was also really happy with how our bench played. We had to dig into the bench really early in the first half when we got into foul trouble and I thought they really did a great job."
Nine Norsemen players scored points in this contest. Natalie Vance led the way with 18 points, followed by Alexa Whipple and Taylor Olson with 11 points each. Samantha Janvrin, Brittany Hammes and Kirsten Waline each tallied six points. Lexi Crutchfield posted four points. Brooke Staker had three points. And Alyssa Miller added two points. The Norse were 29 for 49 from the floor for 59 percent. Their best shooting performance of the season. C-M was held to just 8 of 38 for 21 percent.
"Overall, I felt like we played well," commented Morton. "At times against an opponent like Colfax-Mingo and with a lot of other stuff going on with Pink Out Night, it can be a challenge for the girls to be focused and maintain their focus throughout the game. For the most part, I thought our focus and energy were both good which resulted in a big win."
R-S 75, Gilbert 67
The battle between the Norsemen and the Tigers was a tight one throughout last Tuesday night (Jan. 28) in Story City. Gilbert came out on fire, hitting five threes in the first quarter to take a 19-14 lead. But the Norse came back strong, posting a 15-5 run in the second period to take the lead at the half, 37-35. R-S hit five three pointers of their own in the second quarter to assume the lead. Both teams would end the first half shooting well, as the Norsemen had a total of seven threes, while Gilbert hit eight. Eight different players hit at least one three pointer and five of them had two or more.
R-S kept up their intensity in the second half, scoring 14 points in the first four minutes of the third period. But Gilbert managed to slow the home team down a bit, closing the quarter on a 10-3 run to tie the game heading into the fourth period. The Norse then saw Ben Clark and Zach Hovick hit back to back threes to stretch the lead from one to seven with four minutes to go in the game. Down the stretch, the Norsemen hit their free throws to ice the game, winning by a final score of 75-67. A 9 for 11 performance at the free throw line in the fourth quarter kept the Tigers at bay.
Ben Clark had an outstanding game, coming up one assist short of a triple double. Ben ended the night with 24 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He also had five of the Norsemen’s 11 three pointers. Zach Hovick had a big night as well, scoring 17 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing off five assists. Adam Shorkey stepped up his game, scoring 16 points and hauling down eight rebounds. Tyler Hovick managed eight points. Sam Miller posted four. And Alex Urbanek and Ross Barclay each added three points. Gilbert, who came into the contest with a 7-7 record, just as the Norsemen did, had five players in double figures, led by Jared Gescheidler’s 15. Dax Hatfield and Jack Hoiberg each posted 12 points. Wes Greder and Adam Baker had 10 points apiece.
"It was a great game to watch and be a part of," said Coach Darrin Berggren. "Our guys did a great job answering every run Gilbert made during the game and eventually getting the stops in the fourth quarter to take the lead. We did an excellent job of taking care of the ball and finding the open man. We had 19 assists for the game. Nick Ahrens really stepped up and had a great game defensively for us. We (also) shot the ball much better than we have the last couple games (11 for 20 from three point range). This was another great team effort from our guys and hopefully we can continue this momentum the next couple weeks heading into tournaments."
R-S 66, Colfax-Mingo 34
The Norsemen jumped out to a fast start and never looked back, as they demolished the Colfax-Mingo boys Friday night (Jan. 31) in Story City. The Norse led from start to finish and nearly doubled up on their visitors, winning by a final score of 66-34. R-S went on a 14-2 run to start the game, and after Zach Hovick’s three ended the first quarter, the Norsemen were in control at 25-4. Ben Clark scored nine points and had four steals in the first period. Hovick also had nine in the first frame. Things slowed down a bit in the second quarter, as both teams could score only four points in the first three minutes of the period. But by halftime the Norse were able to stretch the lead to 37-12, as Adam Shorkey scored seven points in the second quarter.
The third quarter was all Norsemen once again, as the home team outscored the Tigerhawks 20-10 to put the lead at 35 heading into the final period. That margin stayed the same for much of the final quarter as the Norse won going away 66-34.
Twelve different Norsemen (9-7) were able to put their names in the scoring column, as the Norse used a balanced attack to put on their offensive show. Six different players made at least one three, as the home team hit seven for the game. Zach Hovick led Roland-Story with 16 points and seven rebounds. Adam Shorkey had 13 points, going a perfect 6 for 6 from the floor. Ben Clark managed nine points, five assists and four steals on the night. Colin Greene added six points, followed by Neil Upadhyay’s four, Alex Urbanek, Ross Barclay, Tyler Hovick and Nick Ahrens each posted three points, and Sam Miller, Ben Crisman and Thomas Wilgenbusch had two points apiece. Colfax-Mingo remained winless for the season with an 0-16 record.
"It was great to get off to a fast start and see so many guys step in and contribute tonight," commented Coach Berggren. "We have four road games this week, which presents a great challenge and opportunity for us to continue the progress and momentum we have shown the last week and a half."