Barten leads Royals to another league win

Colo-NESCO junior nets career-best 18 points against Riceville

COLO — A season-opening loss to neighbor and former Heart of Iowa Conference rival West Marshall helped Colo-NESCO girls’ basketball coach Wayne Cafferty sculpt and motivate this team as it seeks a fifth-straight Iowa Star Conference South Division championship.

Saturday’s home game against Riceville allowed Cafferty’s Royals to apply some of the lessons it learned right off the bat.

Junior forward Molly Barten poured in 15 of her career-high 18 points in the first half and Colo-NESCO cruised to a 63-28 triumph against the visiting Wildcats in cross-divisional play.

The Royals (4-1, 4-0) capitalized on eight Riceville turnovers in the opening quarter and got out to an 18-7 lead, with Barten coming off the bench to score seven points in the frame. She added eight-straight during a 14-0 second-quarter surge that saw Colo-NESCO’s advantage climb from 14 to 28 in a span of three minutes.

The Wildcats (0-4, 0-4) finished off the first half with the last four points, but they didn’t score again until the 4:57 mark of the third quarter. By that point, Colo-NESCO led 46-13 and had long since had the victory well in hand.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Shortly thereafter, Barten scored a traditional three-point play to push her to a new career-high scoring night, and the Royals rolled to the league win.

“It’s an improvement, she’s put more time into it the last three years and it’s just been a slow work in progress,” Cafferty said of Barten’s big game. “Her defense and rebounding are the things I’m really the most happy with her improvements in those areas, but it’s really nice to see her have some success tonight and that’ll help her confidence for the future.”

Barten established her position in the low post against Riceville’s 2-3 zone defense, caught passes and pivoted to her strong hand with relative ease. And on this day, nearly everything she shot at the basket dropped through the net.

“If your teammate’s having success they’re going to come to you more,” Cafferty said. “You’re catching the passes and you’re finishing, they’re going to come to you again, and Mackenna [Ruffcorn] does a really good job of finding [Barten]. Good outside play by ‘Kenna is improving our inside play by Molly and Kassie [Robinson]. They’re an unselfish group.”

An early 3-pointer by Ruffcorn and the Royals’ willingness to put up the shots from long distance helped Barten find space to operate in the low post in the early going, and she converted on short jumpers once the ball started finding its way into her hands.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Rachel Vincent and Rylee Purvis both buried 3-pointers in the second period before Barten went on a personal 8-0 run in the third quarter, and Faith Vincent knocked down another trey soon after.

Ruffcorn added another 3-pointer en route to a 10-point performance, and triples by Madisen Lundquist and Emma Sarver in the fourth quarter brought the Colo-NESCO faithful to their feet for as much applause as the Royals received in their wire-to-wire walloping.

“[The West Marshall loss] showed us we weren’t in position a lot defensively and we weren’t sharp passing-wise and we got outworked on the boards,” Cafferty said. “They kicked our butts that night. We put more emphasis on blocking out, holding the blockout and going and getting the ball and we’ve done that, and our offensive ball movement has improved.

“Molly had a great night tonight for us and Mackenna’s starting to get back in the rhythym coming back from her ACL surgery. Tonight was her best shooting night and she’s getting more comfortable going full speed so it is a work in progress.”

Rachel Vincent finished with nine points, Robinson and Lauryn Hill both added six points and Purvis tallied five as nine different Royals scored and all 12 played.

“Even our 12th girl is a pretty good ballplayer,” Cafferty said, “so we just give them a chance to play. That’s what they’re out for, so we go for the win first and playing time second.

“We don’t have the superstar player to carry us, we’ve got depth that our second five can come in and light it up as well as our first five, so we’ve just got to keep playing hard and everything else will take care of itself.”

The Royals will attempt to collect their fifth consecutive league victory when they go to North Tama on Friday in their only game this week.

Colo-NESCO 63, Riceville 28

RICEVILLE (0-4, 0-4) — Samantha Miller 1 0-0 2, Sierra Ring 5 2-2 12, Ashley Hobson 2 0-1 4, Sarah Harken 3 2-5 8, Brooke Hobson 1 0-0 2, Aby Adams 0 0-0 0, Savannah Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Julia Klaes 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 4-8 28.

COLO-NESCO (4-1, 4-0) — Faith Vincent 1 0-0 3, Grace Stalzer 0 0-0 0, Mackenna Ruffcorn 4 0-0 10, Kassie Robinson 3 0-0 6, Rachel Vincent 4 0-0 9, Lauryn Hill 2 2-3 6, Chelsea Henze 0 0-0 0, Rylee Purvis 2 0-0 5, Delaney McGill 0 0-0 0, Emma Sarver 1 0-0 3, Madisen Lundquist 1 0-0 3, Molly Barten 7 4-6 18. TOTALS 25 6-9 63.

RICEVILLE    7    6    6    9    —    28

COLO-NESCO    18    19    17    9    —    63

3-Point Goals–Colo-NESCO 7 (Ruffcorn 2, F.Vincent, R.Vincent, Purvis, Sarver, Lundquist). Fouled out–none.