R-S girls down IF-A, fall to Saydel, PCM
—by Todd Thorson
The Roland-Story girls dropped their last two ball games last week after starting the season 2-0, falling to Saydel and PCM, to even their record at 2-2 thus far. To start the week the Norse defeated Iowa Falls-Alden at Iowa Falls on Monday night (Dec. 1) before falling to a strong Saydel club 58-48 at Saydel on Tuesday (Dec. 2). In their regular season home opener on Friday night the Norsemen fell victim to PCM’s tough zone defense, as the Mustangs posted a convincing 60-38 victory over the home team. The Norse girls have two home games scheduled for this week, against Gilbert (last night) and Colfax-Mingo on Friday night.
R-S 39, Iowa Falls-Alden 28
The Norsemen took a little while to get things going against the Cadets, but managed to hold off a stingy Iowa Falls group 39-28 on the road. The Norse girls led from start to finish, leading 5-0 from the outset to take a 15-11 advantage at the quarter break. By halftime R-S held a 23-16 lead. That lead grew to 16 two minutes into the third period at 32-16, as the Norse came out of the break to post a 9-0 run to take control.
IF-A trimmed the margin to nine at 32-23 to begin the final frame, but that would be as close as the Cadets would get. The Norsemen slowly built the lead back up to 15 midway through the fourth quarter before eventually winning by 11.
Alexa Whipple led the Norsemen with 10 point, followed by Taylor Olson with nine, Lexi Crutchfield seven, Kirsten Waline had six, Jenna Clark posted five points and Hannah Patton tallied two points. Waline also dished of five assists and had four steals.
“We came out a bit flat and had trouble with our man defense,” said Coach Justin Morton. “Once we got comfortable with our man offense things seemed to click better. Our full court defense was effective throughout the game, as was our pressure 2-3 zone.”
Saydel 58, R-S 48
R-S and Saydel have been known to put on a “dogfight” when they meet on the hard wood, and Coach Morton knew going into this game his Norsemen girls would need to be ready to play physically, and still keep their heads about them. For nearly the entire game the Norse played with “energy and determination”, according to their coach. Only a six minute scoreless drought by the Norsemen to start the second half prevented the game from remaining close until the end. That lull enabled Saydel to take a 17 point lead at 41-24 with a minute to play in the third period. R-S had trailed only 26-23 at halftime.
Slowly the Norse worked their way back, however, trimming the margin to seven at 49-42 with three minutes to play in the game. But they would not get any closer than that.
“To the girls’ credit, we fought back at the end of the game,” said Coach Morton, “and closed the once-17 point gap back to seven.”
The Norsemen would score 24 of their 48 points in the last 10 minutes of the game before finally losing by 10, 58-48.
Alyssa Miller provided a big spark off the bench, hitting 3 for 3 from three point range, to lead the R-S scoring with 11 points.
“We’ve always known Alyssa is a great shooter,” commented Morton. “Now that she’s playing better defense she’ll start to see the floor much more (often).”
Jenna Clark had nine points, with Brittany Hammes right behind her with eight points. Taylor Olson added six points, and Kirsten Waline and Samantha Janvrin each posted five points. Alexa Whipple tallied three points, and Lexi Crutchfield hit a free throw to round out the R-S scoring. Olson led in rebounding with seven grabs, while Janvrin hauled down five boards. Cassie Chubb led Saydel with 14 points, while Brooklyn Allgood and Gabbie Richards each scored 13 points.
“I was very proud of our girls for never backing down,” concluded Morton. “We competed with the 11th ranked team in the state for nearly four quarters, and proved to ourselves that we can compete with any team.”
PCM 60, R-S 38
Coach Morton and the Roland-Story girls also knew going into their game with PCM they would be faced with some big challenges. The Mustangs’ impressive 1-3-1 zone and 1-2-1 full court press would be tough to break, as would be containing the one-two scoring punch of Rachel Freland and Courtney VanHouweling. Freland was averaging 20 ppg., and VanHouweling put up 34 on the Norse last season. Unfortunately, the Norsemen would struggle with these dilemmas throughout the game.
“PCM’s 1-3-1 zone and full court press gave us a lot of fits,” stated Morton. “It’s something that is difficult to duplicate in practice, and it’s hard for the girls to realize how effective and aggressive it is until they (actually) experience it.”
As for the scoring threats were concerned, the Norse did make it difficult for the Mustangs’ dual scorers.
“Lexi (Crutchfield) did a great job when she was on VanHouweling, and our team did a great job of stepping up and limiting her drives for the basket,” Morton said. “Many of Freland’s points came on run-outs when PCM would steal the ball in their 1-3-1. Taylor (Olson) and Lexi both did a very good job of not allowing her to get to the basket and limiting her ability to score in the half court game.”
Offensively, the Norsemen struggled for most of the game. They did get some nice looks at the basket, but for the most part they were rushed.Alexa Whipple had a great game, scoring 15 to lead the Norse. She also showed her presence in the paint and on the boards, hauling down eight rebounds. Jenna Clark had six points, followed by Taylor Olson with five. Brittany Hammes and Alyssa Miller each had three points. Lexi Crutchfield, Bridget Concannon and Samantha Janvrin all had two points each.
The Norse trailed 14-5 at the quarter break, and 31-16 at halftime. The third quarter was the Norsemen’s most productive, as they came out after the break and took it to PCM, cutting the lead to 39-33 with a minute to play in the period.
“We began to play fearlessly (in the third quarter),” stated Morton. “When we were able to compete in this way we were able to get our transition offense going and score some points, which (in turn) gave us more energy on defense. When we slowed down and played tentative we really struggled to compete.”
The Mustangs slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter, eventually winning by 22, 60-38.