Tornadoes impress; show potential for next season
Stacey VanDerSloot wishes she could start the 2007-2008 season tomorrow.
The Tornado girls basketball coach knows next year's team has loads of potential, with four starters and good depth returning.
"We know we have a chance to be a good team, but we also have to work hard over the offseason to develop our potential," VanDerSloot said Friday afternoon."
The Storm Lake girls' talent was on full display here Thursday night in a 66-59 loss to Denison Schleswig in a Class 3A, Regional Semifinal game at the D-S High gym.
The Tornadoes were quicker, more athletic and deeper than the Monarchs, but put D-S on the free throw 30 times. The Monarchs made 22 shots from the line and the Tornadoes made just four of nine.
With the loss, the Tornadoes finished the season 4-17, while Denison-Schleswig (14-7) advances to the Region Semifinals.
Though Thursday night's game was determined at the free throw line, it also hinged on pace. The Monarchs wanted to slow things down and run its well-drilled halfcourt offense.
The more athletic Tornadoes wanted a faster pace, getting some easy baskets off their defense and transition.
The pace favored SLHS in the first quarter, as they outscored Denison-Schleswig 17-15. The Monarchs were patient on offense in the second quarter, dishing the ball into the post and kicking it back out to guards for an open looks. They made four three-pointers in the first quarter, and one more in the second.
The Tornadoes' executed their halfcourt offense well all night, and shot the ball at a 50 percent clip.
"We shot well and did a good job of getting the ball inside to (Amanda) Proczak," VanDerSloot said. "Amanda shot well, and they just couldn't stop her."
The Monarchs, meanwhile, held a 19-15 advantage in the second quarter and took a 34-32 lead at halftime.
"They were quick in their halfcourt offense and moved the ball well," the SLHS coach said. "We just fouled them too many times and they took advantage at the line.
"We were just a step slow to the ball all night on defense."
D-S guard Amanda Eller hit two threes early in the third quarter in between a traditional three point play by Proczak as the Monarchs took a 40-35 lead.
After the Tornadoes missed two free throws, D-S forward Brooke Wehle hit another three to put her team up 43-35.
VanDerSloot called a timeout and her team went on a scoring run. Masters hit a three-pointer from the top of the key, and after a two-point basket by Abby Mendlik, Masters made traditional three-point play and Proczak scored from the paint for a 45-43 SL deficit.
"I was proud of the way we worked together as a team tonight," VanDerSloot said.
"We were patient and got some good shots on offense. We really started to click in our halfcourt offense the last two weeks of the season."
With about a minute left in the third quarter, D-S' Kelsey Heese made one of two free throws, as the Monarchs led 48-45 going into the fourth quarter.
The Tornadoes gave up two critical baskets by Eller to start the fourth quarter, as the Monarchs took a 52-47 lead .
After another timeout, Proczak scored from the blocks after a nice entry pass by senior Katie Overturf.
D-S increased the lead to 55-49 with about four minutes left, then Tornado guard Amber Woodford drained a three from the top of the key with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left.
The teams exchanged baskets and with 3:04 left, Heese made two free throws. After Masters hit a two-point basket, the Monarchs made three straight free throws for a 61-54 lead with a minute left.
Down the stretch, D-S made its free throws for the win.
Proczak led the Tornadoes with 17 points, while Woodford followed with 14 and Masters with 13.
Cassie Meylor led SLHS in rebounding with eight, while Masters notched four boards.
Storm Lake hit five three-pointers, two each by Masters and Woodford and one by Jordan Bauer.
Eller hit five three-point shots for Denison-Schleswig, finishing with a game-high 23 points. Mendlik was next with 14, and Jill Martin added 11. Heese and Wehle contributed nine points each to the balanced Monarch scoring.
Playing their last games Thursday were senior guard Katie Overturf, forward Lindsay Guenther and Julie Manatham.
"All three of our seniors have meant a lot to our program," VanDerSloot said.
"They set the tone in practices with their work ethic, and made our younger girls better."