Turn about for Trojans
West Marshall gets revenge, hands 1A No. 8 AGWSR its first loss
ACKLEY — It was a huge NICL West division showdown between the Class 1A No. 8 AGWSR girls basketball team and West Marshall on Tuesday night, with the Trojans looking to avenge their first loss of the season back on December 1 when the Cougars walked out of State Center with a 52-43 win.
At halftime, neither team had scored much in the first 16 minutes, with West Marshall holding on to a tight 17-12 lead, but the Trojans stormed out of the half to the tune of 28 points, essentially taking a close game and making it a blowout in the blink of an eye.
After handing AGWSR its first loss of the season, 65-47, on Tuesday night, West Marshall head coach Fred Zeller said his girls were able to knock down some shots in the third and make it hard for the Cougars to keep up.
“I think our kids played harder the second half, and sometimes when you play harder you shoot better,” Zeller said. “The first half we got all kinds of good looks on shots that we wanted and shots that we had to make, but in the second we came out of the chute and they weren’t guarding Isabelle and she made a couple of threes, and then they adjusted.”
Senior Isabelle Gradwell was the first spark that ignited the fire for West Marshall (9-3, 5-2), as she drove in for a score then hit two 3-pointers during the big Trojan run in the third quarter. Karlin Snider also found her shot, scoring seven of her 12 points in the frame with two makes from behind the arc, and Zeller said those two did well to keep up their confidence after a slow start to the game.
“If you are going to be a 3-point shooter you can’t turn it on and off, you have to keep shooting them and I think we showed some confidence in each other and if they can make those shots then we are pretty well balanced,” Zeller said.
Gradwell finished with a game-high 20 points, but junior Kayla Cripps also had a fantastic night, scoring 19 in the win, just one point short of her season high. Cripps was most effective in the transition game, especially in the fourth quarter where she dropped 11 of her 19 points, mostly off of fast-
Zeller spoke highly of Cripps after the game, saying there aren’t many people in the conference who can keep up with her athletically.
“She is one of the best athletes in the conference I think, she just doesn’t always turn that into scoring but she’s always making plays,” Zeller said. “Defensive plays, loose ball plays and she rebounds well for a 5-foot-4 guard. In the second half she made up her mind that she was going to take it to the hole and get open and in the open court and transition she got some good, deep passes and converted almost every one of them down the stretch.”
Cripps said she was only given the opportunities to score because of the tough defense the Trojans played on the Cougars (11-1, 6-1).
“It felt pretty good, we did well on both sides of the court and that really helped us,” she said.
Snider was the next-best scorer for West Marshall with 12 points, while Teresa Disney put in 10, with seven of those coming in the big third quarter. Zeller said once the 3-ball started dropping, AGWSR tried to shut that down, which left the two-man game between Renae Schaper on the high post and Disney down low open for points.
“We then got a little bit more open looks inside and finished them, and that was the turning point I think is when they came out to shut out our outside shooters, and then we got some good high-low passes from Renae to Teresa,” Zeller said. “Then we got some backdoor layups and some transition layups and Kayla kind of took over the game.”
The Cougars gave up the most points they had all season in the loss, in fact the previous most in a game against AGWSR was by West Marshall with 43 points in their last matchup. Mandy Willems did finish the game with 19 points, while Aubrie Fisher scored 10, but outside of the two leading scorers for the Cougars no other girl could find a rhythm.
AGWSR head coach Laurie Gann said it didn’t shock her that the Trojans played so well in Ackley on Tuesday night because she knew they were capable of great things.
“That is the West Marshall team that I predicted we would see all year,” she said. “We tried to prepare the kids to be ready to play, in my opinion, one of the toughest games we will play this year.”
While this loss will sting, by no means does this spell the end of any hopes for AGWSR basketball. The Cougars still lead the NICL West with a 6-1 record, and they already have a win over Grundy Center in second place.
Gann said the loss is actually a good thing for her team because it will help them refocus and work on what ailed them on Tuesday night.
“You never want to lose a game but there are a lot of things that can be taken out of this game, and the kids can see that ‘hey, we don’t want to feel this again and we have to work a little bit harder,'” Gann said. “Obviously we’ve seen some offensive things that we have to work a little bit harder to help get our guards going, they did a great job of keeping our guards out of what we wanted them to be able to do.”
As for West Marshall, the win was necessary to keep them in pace for a chance at a NICL West title, though they do essentially need to win out in division play. Zeller said before this game he wasn’t worried about their standing in the division, he just wanted to get a good win over a quality team.
“We didn’t even talk about conference races or anything, we just wanted to come out and beat a quality team which we haven’t had a lot of wins against somebody like AGWSR who definitely is worthy of ranking in the polls,” he said. “Mostly we are just pleased we played hard at both ends and in the second half we didn’t just play hard, we executed and turned that into points.”
Cripps, on the other hand, said the team definitely wanted to return the favor and hand the Cougars their first loss.
“We really wanted to get revenge as a team,” she said with a smile.
Next up for West Marshall is a home tilt against South Hardin on Friday, while AGWSR looks to get right against Waterloo Columbus on Thursday at home.
West Marshall 65, AGWSR 47
WEST MARSHALL (9-3, 5-2) — Kayla Cripps 8 3-5 19, Isabelle Gradwell 8 0-0 20, Karlyn Snider 4 1-2 12, Emma Meyer 0 0-0 0, Teresa Disney 4 2-4 10, Jaiden Hart 0 0-0 0, Grace deNeui 0 0-0 0, Avril Sinning 1 0-0 2, Eliza Girard 0 0-0 0, Abby Green 0 0-0 0, Emma Reyerson 0 0-0 0, Grace Girard 0 0-0 0, Renae Schaper 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 26 6-11 65.
AGWSR (11-1, 6-1) — Ally Finger 0 0-0 0, Mandy Willems 8 0-0 19, Aubrie Fisher 3 2-2 10, Taryan Barrick 2 0-0 4, Rachel Sicard 1 4-4 6, Tori Brandt 0 0-0 0, McKenna Kuper 0 2-2 2. TOTALS 15 8-8 47.
W. Marshall 11 6 28 20 — 65
AGWSR 5 7 14 21 — 47
3-Point Goals–WM 7 (Gradwell 4, Snider 3), AGWSR 6 (Willems 4, Fisher 2). Total Fouls–WM 14, AGWSR 11. Fouled Out–none.