2009 Girls' Hoops Regional Preview

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mustangs dash towards state

Some say the best offense is a good defense, others that the best defense is a good offense. Whatever the case, the Newell-Fonda girls appear to be set.

The Mustangs are certainly living up to their name as their fast and furious defense has come up 447 steals on the season, or nearly 24 per game. That ranks second in all classes. That relentless defense has only fueled the Mustangs' all-out attack that averages 76.2 points per game, also second best in all classes.

Ranked second in the preseason, Newell-Fonda hasn't budged a spot as they finished up the regular season 18-1 and a perfect 12-0 in the Northwest Conference. Their sole loss? Class 2A's second-ranked Manson-NW Webster who reached the semifinals a year ago.

While everything seems to be coming up in twos, Newell-Fonda is only thinking number one after falling to current #1 and undefeated Springville in last season's championship game.

Newell-Fonda can undoubtedly score and wreak havoc on the defense end, but their greatest strength is their numbers.

The Mustangs are perhaps the deepest team in the state, playing as many as 14 girls a night, even after the season-ending injury to starting point guard Susan Kies. Nine different N-F girls average four points per game or better, and six average over eight per outing. Of the 15 girls to suit varsity this season, 13 have seen action in 12 or more games.

The Mustangs boast 10 juniors and seniors on their roster, and aside from steals and points per game, they also led the conference in assists, and rebounds. Perhaps their only weakness could be considered free-throw shooting where their 57.5% team average still ranked second-best in the NW Conference.

Twin River Valley (4-12) appears to be a formality Thursday, setting up a conference rematch with either Laurens-Marathon or St. Mary's next Tuesday, whom the Mustangs are 4-0 against this year. In fact, N-F wouldn't meet a team with a winning record until the regional final where they would likely face North Sentral Kossuth (19-1) or Mason City Newman (14-4).

Newell-Fonda and Twin River Valley tip off at 7PM in Newell Thursday night.

SL girls eye third straight win over LeMars

The Storm Lake girls (14-5, 12-3 in Lakes) stormed out of the gate in the 2008-2009 season, winning their first six games and eight of their first ten. The combined efforts of both experience and youth saw the Tornadoes in the Class 3A rankings for the first half of the season before losses to Denison, Spirit Lake, and Spencer (all ranked teams) eventually dropped them out.

Still, Storm Lake cruised through the season relatively unscathed, and they're guaranteed no worse than a third place finishing in the Lakes Conference. A win over Spirit Lake tonight would give them a tie for second behind Spencer.

At 55.2 points per game, the Tornadoes were second in the Lakes in terms of scoring. Their ability to score both in the paint and from the perimeter saw them defeat their opponents by an average of 11 per game.

Leading the offensive charge for Storm Lake was a trio of juniors; Slone Masters (15.4 ppg, 3rd in Lakes), Katie Blum( 8.6), and Cassie Meylor (11.7, 5th in Lakes) who all shot at 44% or better from the field. Masters' 3.9 assists per game were second most in the Lakes Conference and her 34 three pointers made ranked third.

From a defensive standpoint, Storm Lake far and away led the conference in blocks (5.7 per game), and they were fourth in all of Class 3A in rebounds (33.6) Meylor's 2.5 blocks per game led the conference while her 8.9 rebounds ranked fourth. Masters (4.2) and Jordan Bauer (2.4) were among the Lakes' leaders in steals.

Despite needing only three wins to secure a berth, perhaps no area girls' team has a tougher road to state than Storm Lake.

On the agenda first is a home contest against LeMars in what will be the third meeting of the season between the squads. After routing the Bulldogs 62-40 in the season opener, the Tornadoes squeaked by with a 52-48 win on their January 13th meeting.

A win over LeMars would have SL on their home court again, facing either 8th-ranked Bishop Heelan (12-4) or MOC-Floyd (13-4) Valley Saturday, Feb. 21. The Tornadoes did not face either squad in the regular season.

Most likely to be looming in the regional finals will be 7th-ranked Denision-Schleswig (17-2).

The Monarchs handed SL their first loss of the season back on January 5th, 40-44.

Northwest Conference cinderellas square off first round of regionals

When the top team in your conference is second in the state and holds a gaudy 19-1 record, it's fairly easy to go unnoticed, but two NW Conference schools turned in some pretty impressive seasons of their own under the radar.

You might not be wowed by a 9-8 record, but factoring the level of difficulty in the Alta girls' non-conference schedule, and that mark is a bit more impressive. The Cyclones' 8-4 conference record was good enough for third. Their only losses in the Northwest Conference came at the hands of Newell-Fonda or Sioux Central.

A young team, comprised mostly of sophomores, the Cyclones made up for their lack of height by finishing second in the NW Conference in fewest turnovers and first in free-throw shooting.

At 19.1 points per game, Alta also boasts the conference's top scoring threat in soph. Jordan Henningsen. Emily Grieme also had a breakout year for the Cyclones. The sophomore guard averaged 7.9 points and 5 rebounds per game. Jessy Bibler has done a bit of everything for Alta averaging 8.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.

Meanwhile, the Schaller-Crestland girls nearly didn't have a season at all. Short on numbers, the Wildcats were able to scratch together a roster of just eight girls for the season.

With their starting five playing virtually the entirety of every game, the S-C girls fought their way to a 9-8 finish and a 6-6 mark in the NW Conference, good enough for fourth place.

The Wildcats were led by the duo of Chelsea (16.1 ppg, 9 rpg, 3.6 spg) and Egypt Clayton (14.7ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3.3 apg) who were both among the conference leaders in nearly every statistical category. Add in the experienced play of returning guards Sydney Shell (7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Molly Sippel (5.9 ppg, 2.6 spg), and the shorthanded Wildcats aren't a team to be overlooked heading into tournament play.

The Cyclones won the regular season battle, topping Schaller-Crestland at home, 67-56 on December 5th and 61-56 on the road, January 16th. Tip off in Alta is 7PM Thursday night.

The winner faces Aurelia Saturday night in Alta. From there, a likely game against 15th-ranked Clay Central-Everly looms in the quarterfinals.

Tough postseason stretch ahead for Rebel girls

The Sioux Central girls' basketball team cruised through Northwest Conference play rather comfortably, finishing 9-2 (12-7 overall) with their only losses coming at the hands of #2Newell-Fonda en route to a second place finish.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, that regular season success didn't translate into an easier road to state come regional play this weekend.

First round opponent Pocahontas only holds an 8-10 record but are playing some tremendous basketball, coming off a victory over the Tornadoes in Storm Lake.

Get past Pochy, and the likely opponent is Okoboji (15-4). In the regionals, odds are, either Spirit Lake (12-4) or Sheldon (14-4) awaits.

A tough stretch, but not impossible. SxC has already beaten Pocahontas once this season, handily(57-37), and late-season games with Newell-Fonda and Manson NW-Webster should prove helpful.

Also, the inside-outside combination of Brooke Scharn (18.7 ppg, 8.8rpg, 3apg ) and Grace Rehnstrom (12.1 ppg, 38% 3PT) has been a hard one to contain all season. Tip-off in Sioux Rapids is at 7PM Saturday night.

Familiar foes, St. Mary's and Laurens-Marathon, to meet in regional opener

The Charger girls' basketball team will try to make it 3-0 against St. Mary's on the season, having already picked up wins of 59-38 and 64-40.

The trio of Amanda Zylstra, Shelby Heuton, and Kim Kenobbie have been dominant in the series thus far, totaling 78 points and 32 rebounds, but the Chargers (7-11) enter regional play in a bit of a funk having lost six straight.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-16) were able to pick up their first win over the year a little over a week ago and have played more inspired basketball since.

Zylstra leads the Charger attack with 13.2 points per game while Jordan Sunblad also averages double digits at 12.7. A strong shooting team as a whole, L-M shoots over 40% from the field and 3-point line.

Jen Dimig paces St. Mary's with 10.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per outing. Anyssa Lenhart adds a steady 6.4 points and 5.8 rebounds, and Emily Mohr's 27 three's rank third best in the NW Conf. The winner advances to face the Newell-Fonda/TRV winner.

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