Spartans spurn Comets in regionals
GRUNDY CENTER — Through the first four minutes of the Class 2A Region 2 quarterfinal between the Grundy Center and BCLUW girls teams, it looked as if fans in attendance were in for a slugfest between two strong defenses.
The Comets actually led the No. 8 Spartans halfway through the opening quarter, but Grundy Center found its offensive rhythm and closed out the quarter on a 15-2 run to take a 16-5 advantage after one. That run would stretch to 25-2 after the first two minutes of the second quarter, and the Spartans never looked back, finishing with a 69-37 win over their NICL West Division rival.
Grundy Center head coach Matt Lindeman said it’s typical for a team that you play regularly like BCLUW to hang in tough to start games, but he was happy with how his girls were able to figure things out and pick up the scoring.
“It was a little sluggish at the beginning, and it was one of those things where both teams know each other so I don’t think anybody was surprised by what anybody did,” he said. “Execution is a big thing at the beginning, but I am really proud of how our girls stepped it up once we got momentum going there. We had a nice inside game and outside game.”
One of the most important battles on Tuesday was the matchup between Grundy Center post players Brooke Flater and Kylie Willis and the Comets’ post duo of Madison Ubben and Lauren Anderson. Both front-court pairings were effective, with Flater leading all scorers with 18 points and Ubben following just behind with 17, but what the game actually came down to was the play outside the paint.
Along with a combined 26 points from Flater and Ubben, Grundy Center (20-1) drilled eight threes in the game, all of which were made by bench players. Cora Saak finished second in scoring for the Spartans with nine points off three hits from behind the arc, while Jessica Ayers and Landry Luhring each drilled two.
Flater said she felt the big 25-2 run was started by the play from herself and Willis, and then the outside shooters started to do their thing.
“Once we all got rolling we just knew we had to get it in and that would open up the outside game too, so we just knew we had to have good ball movement and find the openings on the court,” Flater said.
Saak said stepping onto the court in the postseason was a bit overwhelming, but once she got in the flow she started to feel comfortable.
“I was nervous when I went in because I just didn’t want to screw up, but I was really pumped when that first one went in and it built my confidence up a lot,” she said. “I had some great passes from teammates and that was just great teamwork that we had to get that going.”
In total, 10 girls from Grundy Center found the bottom of the net, compared to just four for the Comets (10-13). BCLUW head coach Dave Lee said the Spartans won the NICL West and are ranked eighth for a reason, and when they are hitting shots they are absolutely deadly.
“The problem is, they shot over 50 percent from three. If they shoot over 50 percent from three, they are going to win. If we had shot that then it would have been a different ball game,” Lee said. “Now they didn’t give us the looks, but they started by the bigs really making us pay attention to them and then they started going to the outside and we could not guard everything, we just don’t have the personnel. We were going to try and take some inside away and give them some things on the outside, then all of a sudden what we gave them they turned into points.”
Another area Grundy Center did damage was on the glass, as the Spartans were constantly out-working the Comets for rebounds. Lindeman said, aside from a spurt that allowed Anderson to score seven of her nine points in the third quarter, he was pleased with his girls’ efforts on the boards.
“For the most part we have rebounded very well night-in and night-out, though there was a little stretch in the second half when Anderson was kicking our butt,” he said. “We just do a very good job on the offensive end and also defensively, which is why we have been effective defensively.”
As for his thoughts on his bench scoring 32 points in the win, Lindeman said all year he’s felt like this team has the option to play eight or nine people in a tight game.
“That is the nice part about this, we have the capabilities of being a fairly deep team, and I think we showed that tonight,” he said. “We were able to get some dribble penetration and kick it out, and we put up 69 points so that showed.”
That depth will be put to the test on Friday, as the Spartans will welcome in a Aplington-Parkersburg for the regional semifinals in Grundy Center. The Spartans and Falcons met up in the first game of the season, a game Grundy Center won despite leading-scorer Hailey Wallis suffering an injury in the first quarter, and Lindeman said A-P has come a long way since that game in November.
“Obviously they have grown a ton and at that point we knew who we were because we had everyone back,” Lindeman said. “Hailey goes down in the first two minutes and we are up 16-0, and they get back into it and it’s a great game. There is no doubt now they know who they are, they have a lot of confidence and belief in what they’ve done.”
Grundy Center will look to make it a second-straight victory over the Falcons by winning the regional semifinals, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday in Grundy Center.
Grundy Center 69, BCLUW 37
At Grundy Center
BCLUW (10-13) — Kaylee Goecke 0 0-0 0, Brooke Aalfs 3 0-0 6, Lauren Anderson 4 0-0 9, Easton Swanson 1 1-2 3, Madison Ubben 7 2-4 17, Katie Thompson 0 0-0 0, Bailey Ashton 0 2-2 2, Lili Wilson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 15 5-8 37.
GRUNDY CENTER (20-1) — Hailey Wallis 3 0-0 6, Maddie McMartin 1 0-0 2, Sydney Mathews 1 1-1 3, Kylie Willis 4 0-0 8, Brooke Flater 8 2-4 18, Reegan Zinkula 2 1-1 6, Jessica Ayers 2 0-0 6, Landry Luhring 2 1-2 7, Sarah Lindeman 1 0-2 2, Cora Saak 3 0-0 9, Leslie Homeister 0 0-0 0, Brittany Burroughs 1 0-0 2, Brianna Heltibridle 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 28 5-10 69.
BCLUW 5 10 14 8 — 37
GRUNDY CTR 16 21 15 14 — 69
3-Point Goals–BCLUW 2 (Anderson, Ubben), GC 8 (Saak 3, Ayers 2, Luhring 2, Zinkula). Total Fouls–BCLUW 1, GC 9). Fouled Out–none.