GRUNDY CENTER - With the offense struggling early, Grundy Center's defense needed to be aggressive and strong in the first half of a North Iowa Cedar League girls basketball game against AGWSR.
The Spartans missed 14 straight shots in the first quarter but stayed in the game with strong defense before a 19-8 advantage in the second frame helped propel No. 6 Grundy Center to the 58-43 victory here Friday night.
"We played tremendous defense throughout and that was big while our offense struggled," Grundy Center coach Al Jones said. "It is uncharacterstic for our two big girls to miss those easy shots inside, but they overcame it."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Grundy Center senior Heather Hook, center, shoots over AGWSR’s Jayne Wiarda, left, during the Spartans’ North Iowa Cedar League win on Friday. Hook had 14 points and 11 rebounds as Grundy Center improved to 7-1 on the season.
The senior tandem of Heather Hook and Sam Meyers inside combined to score 31 points but the shots were not falling in the first quarter. The Spartans (7-1, 5-1) led 7-1 in the early going but trailed 12-11 heading into the second quarter thanks to seven points from Ella Frazier.
The 19-8 advantage in the second quarter featured 12 points from Meyers and Hook as well as a couple buckets from freshman Katie Lindeman. But it was a deep 3-pointer from Allison Jansen that turned the game around for the home team.
"That was a big 3 for us," Jones said. "We got really nice games tonight from our role players and the shots they were able to hit eventually opened things up for our inside players."
Jansen's triple made it 22-18 and started an 11-2 spurt that sent the Spartans into halftime with a 30-20 cushion.
"Some of our same old tendencies showed up tonight," AGWSR coach Laurie Gann said. "You can get away with turnovers against some of the teams we've already played but that won't work against the good teams."
Turnovers have plagued the Cougars (5-3, 4-1) all season and it was the same story Friday. Grundy Center used a full-court press to create turnovers and often times turned the miscues into easy buckets at the other end.
"That's our game," Jones said. "We like to press, and it always seems like the girls just don't get tired. I ask them if they are tired and need a break, and they always tell me no."
The Spartans continued to pull away in the third quarter with more strong play inside from Meyers and Hook.
Leading by nine midway through the third frame, the Spartans finished the period on a 12-2 run that pushed the lead to 19 after three quarters. The run was sparked by back-to-back buckets from Riley Ackerman as well as easy buckets inside by Hook, Meyers and Lindeman.
"We battled, but we hung our heads too much in the third quarter when things weren't going our way," Gann said. "Grundy Center is not just going to lie down and let us comeback. We need to go back to focusing on the fundamentals and stop trying to throw the overhand pass over the press."
Grundy Center was outscored in the fourth quarter but the damage had already been done.
Meyers finished with a game-high 17 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, while Hook added 14 points and 11 boards. Ackerman chipped in eight points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists, while Lindeman added nine points and five rebounds. Jessica Ackerson only scored three points but also had six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Kristen Zacharias and Ella Frazier both scored 11 points to lead the Cougars, while Jayna Wiarda had eight and Marissa Horner pitched in seven. The loss ended the Cougars' five-game win streak.