Trojans triumphant against Bears
Shannon Breja leads West Marshall with 18 in 60-22 win against BGM
STATE CENTER — Under unfortunate circumstances, Saturday’s non-conference game against BGM came at the right time for the West Marshall girls’ basketball team.
The Class 3A No. 8 Trojans have been tasked with filling a void left by leading scorer Isabelle Gradwell. What originally thought was to be a sprained ankle, the 6-foot junior guard suffered a broken fibula in a non-conference game at Meskwaki Settlement this past Tuesday, and is out indefinitely. Saturday’s game allowed West Marshall to test which lineup changes will benefit the Trojans the best moving forward.
Oh, and the Trojans came away with the 60-22 win against the Bears.
“The kids have accepted the fact she’s not going to be (on the court), and somebody’s got to step up,” said Trojan coach Fred Zeller. “All of them having been stepping up. Pretty devastated with the news, but they’re resilient. They came back, and been playing pretty good ball the last few nights.
“We need games without Izzy. This was a good tune-up for us. … Overall, pretty good effort for a Saturday night game after a Friday night game.”
Before the injury, Gradwell had been leading the Trojans (13-0) in scoring, averaging 18.3 points a contest. The only other Trojan averaging double figures is Brooke Snider. However, it was Shannon Breja who stepped up Saturday in Gradwell’s absence. Breja recorded a double-double, scoring a career-high 18 points, and pulling down 10 rebounds. The senior also collected four assists, and stole the ball eight times.
Freshman Teresa Disney accounted for 17 of West Marshall’s points. Snider scored eight points, hauled in six boards and stole the basketball from the Bears (4-9) seven times. Emma Meyer also scored eight points, and Kayla Cripps finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
With runs between four and six points in the first quarter, the Trojans jumped out to an 18-7 lead after the opening stanza. Disney beat the BGM defense for a layup just before the buzzer brought the first quarter to a close.
Cripps drained a 3-pointer, the lone West Marshall basket from long range on the night, late in the second quarter to double the lead on the Bears at 28-14. Disney again had the final say before the quarter ended, giving the Trojans a 30-14 halftime lead with a field goal.
“Some really good offense tonight,” Zeller said. “Passed the ball well, and got some high-percentage shots. Missed some in the first half. Missed a bundle of bunnies in the first half, but at least we were getting them.
“We’re trying to find a point guard to take (Gradwell’s) spot. Kind of point guard by committee. We have three or four ball handlers, but we’re not used to handling the ball that much. There were times in the game where we had some poor decisions dribbling the ball, not having an outlet.”
Getting points from Snider, Disney, Breja and Meyer, the Trojans closed out the third quarter on a 12-0 to push the lead from 36-20 to 48-20. Free throws accounted for half of West Marshall’s fourth-quarter points, as the Trojans held the Bears to just two points in the final quarter.
The Trojans have an unconventional week ahead of them. Instead of playing the normal Tuesday-Friday schedule, West Marshall is playing three games in as many days. The Trojans host Hudson on Thursday in a cross-NICL matchup, then head to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Friday for a NICL West game before finishing the week off at Woodward-Granger on Saturday.
“We’d like to think we matchup pretty good with just about everybody on our schedule,” Zeller said. “We’re just thinking about improving, and we have somethings we’ve had to change because of the injury. Freshman post girls are obviously going to be a bigger part of our offense and defense. Kids on the bench are going to have to expect we’re going to need them a bit.”