Spartans enter break victorious

No. 11 Grundy Center tops No. 12 Dike-New Hartford

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Grundy Center junior Hailey Wallis, left, scoops a layup toward the basket after driving past Dike-New Hartford’s Morgan Weber during the second half of the Spartans’ overtime win over the Wolverines in Dike, 55-45. Wallis had all of her team-high 16 points in the second half.

DIKE — After three intense, defensive quarters between the Class 2A No. 11 Grundy Center girls basketball team and No. 12 Dike-New Hartford on Friday night, the Spartans clung to a narrow 32-31 lead heading into the final frame.

While the offenses for both teams had a hard time through the first three quarters, that wasn’t the case for the fourth, as both teams netted shot after shot, quickly turning a defensive struggle into a shootout.

When the dust had settled at the end of the fourth, things hadn’t quite been sorted out, as the Wolverines and Grundy Center were knotted up at 45-all and fans were gifted an extra four minutes of action between the two ranked squads.

In the end, it was the Spartan fans who received the greatest gift, as their girls shutout Dike-New Hartford in the overtime while scoring ten points of their own to close out the first half of their schedule with a 55-45 victory.

Grundy Center head coach Matt Lindeman said his girls did a great job of dictating the tempo against the Wolverines, and that ultimately led to the win.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Grundy Center junior Reegan Zinkula, right, drives to the bucket while Dike-New Hartford sophomore Ellie Foster attempts to defend during the Spartans’ overtime win over the Wolverines on Friday night.

“I am really proud of our girls, for the most part we were able to control things. We had a little dead period where we were on 18 for a while then again sometime in the third quarter,” Lindeman said. “Then we had a ton of fouls, and that didn’t create where someone was in foul trouble but they had a huge number up there and we did not, so for us to try to close out the game it’s hard to do that from the line.”

What truly helped close out the game was a big quarter shooting behind the 3-point line in the fourth, as the Spartans (8-1) nailed four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and nine total in the game.

Junior Reegan Zinkula splashed a triple in both the fourth quarter and overtime on her way to scoring 13 points in the win, her best game of the season so far, and she said after a couple of rough games scoring she is starting to feel good with her shot.

“I just needed confidence and I’ve been in the gym so much shooting lately and so it just comes to me,” Zinkula said. “The last couple of games I’ve really been off but this is the game that I’m back. I am back in the swing of things, when I shoot it I just tell myself ‘just make my shot, don’t worry about where the defense is, just focus on me and the ball and the hoop.'”

Fellow junior Hailey Wallis led Grundy Center in scoring with 16 points, all of which came in the second half, while Kylie Willis scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Grundy Center junior Kylie Willis sends up a shot in the paint during the third quarter of the Spartans’ overtime win over Dike-New Hartford on Friday.

Lindeman said all three of those girls were crucial to the win, but against a team the quality of Dike-New Hartford (8-2) this was a total team win.

“This is a big win, they are a quality ball club and I am very proud of how we were able to find a way in the fourth quarter there,” he said. “We didn’t get the shot that we wanted out of our last possession but we were able to really get it going in the overtime.”

Wolverines head coach Bruce Dall agreed with Lindeman about how tough the game was, likening it to a heavyweight boxing match.

“This was like a 15-round prize fight, both teams were slugging each other and it was a good game,” Dall said. “People definitely got their money’s worth.”

Unfortunately for Dike-New Hartford, they were down some punching power as they had dealt with some illness over the past week. Dall didn’t want to use that as an excuse, but he said their tank just ran empty when it came to overtime, hence the team not scoring any points.

“Grundy Center won fair and square, they are a great team and Matt Lindeman is a great coach, but we had the bug going around and overtime was probably not what we needed at that point,” Dall said. “I told the girls that that’s never an excuse, we lose games because we don’t execute and all that stuff has to be put on the side.”

Morgan Weber led the Wolverines with 16 points on the night, followed by Sydney Petersen with 13 and Baylee Petersen with 10.

Dike-New Hartford did have opportunities to net some baskets in the overtime, but the Spartan defense tightened up, and Lindeman said he couldn’t have been happier with how his girls closed out on that side of the ball.

“Our defense really stepped up, which is generally our go-to,” he said. “We didn’t allow them to have any threes late and we finished it out.”

Zinkula, who actually led the team in scoring in overtime with five points, said it took both an offensive and defensive effort to secure the victory.

“I think it was a little bit of both, we have to have our defense going so they don’t score and they don’t get second shots, but we also need to be able to score,” she said. “You can’t win a game if you don’t score, and the main thing was we all just came together and we all pulled that off together.”

Despite only having one loss on the season to currently-undefeated AGWSR, Lindeman said these first nine games have been a struggle for the Spartans, as they’ve dealt with quite a few adversities, including losing Wallis for a few games to start the season after an ankle injury in the season opener.

“There’s a lot of people saying ‘you just don’t look good right now,’ and we haven’t found the flow,” Lindeman said of the team’s start. “I thought in the fourth quarter today was the first time where we started to see a little bit of what we can do, Hailey hit a couple shots from the outside and Reegan did and got some inside. Kylie played a heck of a game in the first half, just putting that all together was nice, we hadn’t put that together at all, but they are determined, they work hard and have great attitudes and continue to fight throughout this whole stretch.”

Taking a win over the team ranked directly behind them before heading into the break has to feel good though, and Zinkula said this was all the girls wanted before getting some well-deserved rest.

“Going into break knowing we got a win and we have a couple days until practice, that was really something we really wanted to do,” she said.

The Spartans return to action after the winter break on Friday, Jan. 5, when they welcome in NICL West rival South Hardin.

Grundy Center 55,

Dike-New Hartford 45, OT

At Dike

GRUNDY CENTER (8-1) — Hailey Wallis 6 1-3 16, Maddie McMartin 3 0-0 9, Sydney Mathews 0 0-0 0, Kylie Willis 6 0-1 12, Brooke Flater 2 1-2 5, Reegan Zinkula 3 4-4 13, Sarah Lindeman 0 0-0 0, Cora Saak 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 6-10 55.

DIKE-NEW HARTFORD (8-2) — Ellie Foster 0 2-3 2, Sydney Petersen 4 2-5 13, Baylee Petersen4 2-3 10, Morgan Weber 4 4-4 46, Katie Knock 2 0-0 4, Allie Aalderks 0 0-0 0, Carlee Dove 0 0-0 0, Jill Eilderts 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 14 10-15 45.

Grundy CTR 16 5 11 13 10 — 55

D-NH 9 12 10 14 0 — 45

3-Point Goals–GC 9 (Zinkula 3, Wallis 3, McMartin 3), DNH 4 (Petersen 3, Weber). Total Fouls–GC 14, DNH 12. Fouled Out–none.