SIOUX RAPIDS - A stifling defensive effort by the Okoboji girls' basketball team made all the difference Tuesday night as the Pioneers held Sioux Central to their lowest scoring output of the season and ending their state tournament hopes, 60-26.
Struggling to find the basket against a very tall Okoboji team, the Rebels were just 9-44 (20%) from the field and 0-13 from long range.
"We missed some shots we usually make, but I would give a lot of the credit for that to Okoboji," said Sioux Central head coach John Barbier. "They're a very good defensive team. They challenged our shots a little more than some of our opponents during the year, and then you don't get any second ones because they rebounded so well.
The Pioneers took their first lead on a Miley Hunziker 3-pointer with 4:46 left in the first, and they wouldn't trail again the remainder of the game. 5'11" Miley and twin sister Landi would would score the next five points to take a 10-4 advantage before closing the first quarter with a 14-9 lead.
Okoboji opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run, pushing the lead to 21-11. They would hold Sioux Central to just six points in the quarter to grab a 25-15 lead at the half.
The Rebels would come as close as 30-21 with three minutes left in the third, but the Pioneers answered with five to push the game out of reach. The Rebels were held to just four field goals in the entire second half.
Miley Hunziker finished with 23 points to lead Okoboji, including four three pointers. Landi Hunziker finished with 16.
Morgan Walker led Sioux Central with 10 points and four rebounds on the night. Leading-scorer Brooke Scharn was held to a season-low six points, all coming in the first half.
"They limited us all," said Barbier. "They didn't just take Brooke away and give us something else. They took everything away. They're just a little bit more athletic than us in a couple of key spots and it really made a difference. They're an excellent team. If you've got to lose, you want to lose to a good team playing well and we did. That's the way it goes."
The Rebels finish the season with a 12-9 overall mark.
Okoboji (17-4) advances to Friday night's regional semifinal at Spirit Lake where they will square off with the Indians (15-6). Spirit Lake topped Sheldon 29-28 in their matchup Tuesday night.