In just two years, Newell-Fonda girls basketball coach Dick Jungers has made his mark on the prep ranks in Iowa.
In his two year stint as the Lady Mustangs coach, he's guided the team to a 45-6 record and a share of two Northwest Conference titles. In conference play, the Mustangs were 15-1 each of the coach's first two winters
This past season, the Newell-Fonda girls reached the region finals, where they lost to a talented Rock Valley team. In 2002-2003, the Lady Mustangs beat Farragut in the region finals to advance to state, where they lost to Cardinal Stricht High of Keokuk in the opening round.
This year's Pilot-Tribune's All-Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, Jungers has been around the nucleus of this year's team for a number of years.
"I was this group of kids'(varsity) softball coach and worked a lot with them in the gym while I was an assistant for Paul (Loos') boys team," Jungers said.
"They're just a great group of kids, talented, but very dedicated to working hard and winning," he said.
The Lady Mustangs did a lot of that this season, finishing 22- 3, including 15-1 in the tough Northwest Conference. Still, Jungers would like to have that game back with Rock Valley three and a half weeks ago.
"We were leading by three points midway through the third quarter, but went on an offensive dry spell for about three minutes where we just couldn't get our shots to drop," Jungers remembered.
"During that time frame, Rock Valley went on an 11-2 run and took an eight point lead into the fourth quarter."
This spring, Jungers will lose just three seniors off this year's team, but they are big losses nevertheless. The graduating seniors are senior point guard Ashley Loos, senior forward Alicia Tiedeman and shooing forward Katie Wells.
"We'll miss those kids a lot; they meant so much to our program over the years," he said.
On the positive side, Jungers returns nine of 12 varsity players, including three starters in six-foot leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer Schumann, junior power forward Andrea Larsen and guard Kristen Culp.
"And we'll have an extremely deep team with some good talent coming up through the system," he said. "We'll be back strong next year and we hope we can get back to the state tournament."
State tournaments for Newell-Fonda basketball teams have been commonplace over the years. Under Paul Loos, the Mustang boys have had eight state tourney appearances and four state titles since 1991.
Prior to Jungers, the Lady Mustangs had four state tournament appearances under his predecessor, Jody Maske.
Jungers said when he took over for Maske two years ago, he brought in a slightly different system.
"Jody's teams played mostly zone defenses while I prefer the man-to-man defense," Jungers said. "It was an adjustment for our kids, but to their credit, they took it in stride and made them very well."
While systems can be learned, so can fundamentals. And Jungers learned that stressing them is really the key to winning basketball.
He was an assistant under Loos for four years before landing the N-F girls basketball duties.
"There's a reason Paul has been so successful," added Jungers. "Along with some of my junior high coaches, Paul has been a big influence.
"He stresses fundamentals, but you've got to be able to teach them and he's a great teacher. He strikes a nice balance of maintaining a disciplined game while letting the kids be themselves on the floor."
Meanwhile, this year's Newell-Fonda girls team played the style Jungers and Loos prefer.
"We like an uptempo, exciting style where we score a lot of points but still stress defense heavily," Jungers said. "We like to set the pace and tempo in a game and when we do that, we can be tough to beat.
"But it all comes down to learning the basics. More than half of every practice we have is dedicated to offensive and defensive fundamentals and the little things that will make you better."
Balance is the term Jungers likes to use when he talks about this year's team.
Aided by a balanced scoring attack, the Lady Mustangs averaged 73 points per game, high even for a boys basketball team.
"We had a very unselfish group of players with a lot of versatility on the floor," Jungers said. "Many of the girls could play different positions because we were very athletic. That gives a coach a lot of options.
"It was a fun team for fans to watch. We played a real team game, but it was very fast-paced."
Jungers graduated from Sheldon High in 1992, after playing varsity basketball for three years. He went to Buena Vista University and made it through in four years, graduating in 1996.
"I really wasn't that good of a player in high school," Jungers said. "But I always had a love of the game, of learning it and always wanted to coach."
Jungers taught and coached in Mercer, Mo. for two years before coming back to northwest Iowa and Newell-Fonda High.
"Paul was a big influence on me, and the past two years, we'd go over what each other's teams were and weren't doing," he said. "We'd pick each others brains to help make our kids better."
Now, Jungers is hoping he enjoys next season as much as he did this season.
"We just had an outstanding group of kids this season, very close on and off the court," he said. "And for me, they were a joy to watch on the basketball court."