The performances of the Storm Lake St. Mary's girls basketball team just keeps getting better.
The Panthers took another step toward a Northwest Conference title at home Tuesday night with a 59-35 win over rival Alta.
Defense was the key in this contest, as the Panthers held Alta to single digits in three of four quarters. They allowed just four points in the first quarter, nine in the second and nine in the fourth.
"We had an excellent defensive performance," said St. Mary's coach Ryan Berg, whose team improve to 8-1 in conference play and to 13-3 overall. "We really made Alta work for everything they got.
"I also thought we moved the ball well on offense," he added. "We found open people on the weakside of their zone and then knocked down some open shots."
The Panthers led 14-4 after one quarter and 30-13 at halftime, then cruised to the win.
Junior point guard Abby Richardson led St. Mary's with a game-high 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Becky Lenhart added 11 points and Colleen Smith 11.
Junior post player Janie Imming had a good night on the boards, pulling down 11 rebounds, helping the Panthers outrebound Alta 40-25.
Defensively, St. Mary's held Alta to 26 percent shooting while on offense, they made 48 percent of their field goal attempts.
No Alta player hit double figures, but freshman forward Jessy Bibler scored nine points. The Cyclones were also nine of 20 from the free throw line.
Storm Lake High 43
Sophomore post player Amanda Proczak scored a career-high 16 points and added nine rebounds in this Tornado loss Tuesday night in Emmetsburg.
That wasn't enough to overcome 29 SLHS turnovers and 30 percent shooting.
"We didn't do the little things well (Tuesday night)," Tornado coach Stacey VanDerSloot said. "'We didn't shoot well and we gave up too many rebounds. "We also need to become more aggressive on defense."
Senior Kristen Erskine added seven points and nine rebounds for the Tornadoes, while guard Beth Bjorkgren added five.
Senior guard Katie Overturf added seven assists and six rebounds.
On Monday night at the SLHS gym, the Tornadoes lost 84-38 to Unity Christian.
Storm Lake shot just 24 percent from the field and trailed 15-9 after one quarter and 42-21 at the half.
"We couldn't buy a basket (Monday night)," said VanDerSloot, who added that her team missed 20 shots from deep in the lane. "We need to find a way to put four strong quarters together."
She added that Unity Christian doesn't often rely on three-point shooting, but that it was seven of 14 from beyond the arc Monday.
A highlight for the Tornadoes was a career and game-high 17 rebounds from Erskine, who added eight points. Overturf led the Tornadoes with ten points, with Amber Woodford adding seven.
Three Aurelia players reached double figures in this Northwest Conference game Tuesday night in Aurelia.
Senior center Amy Hirschman led the way with 16 points and a team-high 17 rebounds. Junior forward Kristine Munden added 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Guard Emily Sonksen added 12 points, seven assists and four steals.
The Bulldogs were outscored 17-10 in the first quarter, but rallied in the second, outscoring the Wildcats 16-7 in the second frame for a 26-24 halftime lead.
Aurelia broke things open in the third quarter, outscoring S-C 19-6 for a 45-30 lead at the last break.
"We were a little tentative in the first quarter against their zone, but settled down in the last three quarters," Aurelia coach Marv Munden said.
"In the second half, the girls did a great job of attacking the zone and making great passes for easy baskets," he added. "Our balanced scoring was a real key."
Becky Willer led the Wildcats with 18 points, with point guard Kayla Bihrer adding 11 and Katie Murra ten. Willer made four three-pointers two two-point shots and added seven rebounds. Bihrer dished out five assists and had seven rebounds.
According ot Schaller-Crestland coach Lori McDermott, her team has been hurt by injuries.
"With three starters out due to injury, our subs are really having a tough time stepping it up against some tough teams," she said. "At times we look good, but we just can't put a full game together."