Dutch press caused problems for Tornadoes
It wasn't what it seemed, at least at the end.
The MOC/Floyd Valley girls basketball team ended the Storm Lake girls' season here Thursday night in 3A region tourney action, beating the Tornadoes in what looked like a rout, 69-48.
But the Lady Dutch had to work for the win, as Storm Lake led 24-22 at the half and led by as many as five points in the third quarter.
"We made a lot of mental errors late in the second quarter and Storm Lake took advantage them," said MOC/FV head coach Todd Tidgren. "That was a good basketball team we just beat."
Storm Lake guard Mel Fisher scored two of her team-high 20 points on the first possession of the third quarter and the Tornadoes led 26-22.
The Dutch upped the intensity a notch, and led by top scorer Jenna Koele, went on a 14-0 run over just a four-minute stretch for a 36-26 lead with three minutes, 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
All night, the Tornadoes struggled with MOC's full-court press. That, and some tough offensive rebounding and clutch long range shooting, led to the Dutch surge.
"We just had problems with their press all night," said a teary-eyed Storm Lake coach Stacey VanDerSloot just after exiting her team's lockeroom after the game.
"We wanted Mel to bring the ball upcourt and they knew it and took advantage of that."
MOC led 41-26 with about two minutes left in the third quarter and looked for a knockout punch.
Instead, they got a gutsy run by Storm Lake that got the Tornadoes right back in the game.
Senior guard Anna Paulsen led the rally, scoring the first five points on a driving layup followed by a three-point from the top of the key.
Sophomore guard Katie Overturf made a steal in the backcourt, drifted into the lane and made a short jumper with 34 seconds left in the frame.
The Dutch were hit with a technical, and Fisher made one of two free throws. After inbounding the ball, Fisher was fouled and made one of two again. The Tornadoes trailed just 41-35 with five seconds left before the last break.
But MOC's sophomore guard Morgan Achterhoff nailed a shot from near halfcourt at the buzzer to get her team's lead back to nine again.
"That was a long five seconds," VanDerSloot said. "It gave them some momentum going into the fourth quarter."
Paulsen, who finished with 10 points, scored on a putback of an offensive rebound underneath to start the fourth quarter.
Still leading just 44-38, the Dutch went on the game's decisive run, as MOC senior Brooke Achterhoff canned two long threes in between two free throws. They led 52-38 with six minutes left.
"We played much better defense in the second half, and our press took its toll on Storm Lake in the last two quarters," Tidgren said. "We went a little deeper than they did and I think they wore down a little bit."
Storm Lake got to within 52-40 with 6:12 left after a nice jumper in the lane from Overturf. But the Dutch went on a 5-0 run to all but seal the win.
"(MOC/FV) is an excellent team," added VanDerSloot. "They run the press effectively and it was just tough for us to break."
The Dutch also took advantage at the free throw line, making 24 of 31 from the stripe while the Tornadoes were just nine of 16.
Koele, a 5-9 senior, led the Dutch with a game-high 22 points. Senior guard Brooke Achterhoff added 16 and Morgan Achterhoff 11.
The Tornadoes trailed 11-7 after a sloppy first quarter on both teams' parts. MOC/FV upped the lead to 18-9 five minutes before halftime, but Storm Lake ended the quarter on a 13-4 run for a 24-22 lead at the break.
"We played some good defense in the first half and I think that threw them a little," VanDerSloot said.
Meanwhile, the game was the last for Storm Lake seniors Fisher, Paulsen and Amy Sennert.
"It's such a tough loss because it's the end of a season where I think our kids had a lot of fun," VanDerSloot said. "And that was because of the way our seniors led us. They led with their hearts and played that way. We'll have some big shoes to fill for next year."