Look, I’m never for putting all my eggs in a basket or any other old hokey saying about getting ahead of one’s self. I hate the idea of it, and usually I never do it, but this year, this year feels just a bit different. With the girls State Basketball tournament on the horizon, it’s time to think about the reality that the Newell-Fonda girls basketball team is really going on a legendary tear.
Granted, they still have four more games to go to finish their second straight unbeaten season, but the way they’ve been running through the opposition, there’s little reason to think that won’t happen.
How many other teams this year have held a 15 win team to just 18 points in 32 minutes? Think about that for a second. Newell-Fonda held a team to just 18 points. Paton-Churdan had a girl that averaged nearly 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. Just on that average alone Paton-Churdan should’ve hit that mark, but the Mustang defense?
Good luck to the remaining teams of 1A.
Here’s a few tidbits about this streak Newell-Fonda is currently on. They haven’t lost a regular season game since January 6… Back in 2017. It’s been three years, and the team that last beat them? Oh just the Elle Ruffridge led Pocahontas Area girls that won a couple of State Titles.
Since I’ve started here at the Pilot-Tribune, the Newell-Fonda girls have lost a total of five times in my four seasons covering basketball. Four of them came in the first year where they lost in a regional final that I still remember quite vividly.
So, in the past near three seasons, they’ve lost one game. The 2018 1A State Title game. Other than that? They’ve won every game by at least 11 points. That’s 76 games ahead of tonight’s regional final against Woodbury Central.
During the 2017-18 season, Newell-Fonda had a point differential of 27.1. Last year it was 38.9. This year? It’s all the way up to 43.3. Yeah, that number has increased by 16 points in less than two years.
This season alone Newell-Fonda leads the entire state in points, points per game, assists, assists per game, steals and field goals made while being second in field goals attempted.
The Mustangs make 30 shots a game and take 61. That’s a shade under 50 percent. You combine that shooting with their ability to create at least 25 turnovers a game, that’s a difficult combination to beat.
The biggest number that stood out to me, and it should stand out to anyone else, is that they lead the state in assists. Most of the time you see one or two girls score more than half if not two-thirds of a team’s points as everyone else just chips in where they can.
Newell-Fonda has all five of their starters averaging over 8.6 points a game and none of them shoot below 48 percent from the floor. No one has more than 40 turnovers on the year and all five starters have at least 32 assists. The unselfish play makes it hard for an opposing defense to just stop one player because any starter can go off for 20 plus points a night, sometimes even two or maybe three. The balanced scoring that this team has, has led to their increasing point differential over the past few seasons.
This season is the best Newell-Fonda team I have seen. Defensively, they’ve allowed more than 50 points once, and that was in the opener to a good Western Christian team that’s also in a regional final. Their other close game this year was against Emmetsburg, a top 15 2A team that’s a win away from State as well.
The Mustangs were 5-0 against Lakes Conference teams this season as well as having that undefeated Twin Lakes Conference Championship. Compared to other top 1A teams this year, Newell-Fonda has one of the higher opponents win/loss records at 51 percent.
Sure, the eastern part of the state has a lot of 20 win or close to teams, but most of them are knocking each other out before the State tournament. Springville and Montezuma are going head to head as are Saint Ansgar and Central Elkader along with Marquette Catholic and Burlington Notre Dame. All six of those schools were in the final 1A top 15 poll of the season.
Last year’s State Tournament showed us that Newell-Fonda is up to the task on taking on those eastern Iowa heavyweights and come out smiling with a trophy to show for it.
Regardless, I’m not sure if anyone in 1A can stop Newell-Fonda when top 15 2A and 3A teams have been blown out of the water against them. Maybe this is a jinx, or maybe they’re just destined to keep racking up State titles.
After all, Macy Sievers told me last year she wants to win it three more times. You’re getting closer, kid.