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Meskwaki girls rough up Redhawks, 74-35

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Meskwaki senior Abby Iron Shell, right, drives by North Tama defender Katie Kopriva (10) for a shot at the basket in the first half of the Warriors’ 74-35 win over the Redhawks at Meskwaki Settlement on Tuesday.

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT — The Meskwaki girls basketball team hosted North Tama for an Iowa Star Conference South Division showdown on Tuesday night, with the Warriors looking to sweep the season series against the Redhawks.

Meskwaki started hot and stayed that way throughout the game, and there was nothing North Tama could do but watch as their opponent ran out to a 74-35 victory, the largest of the season for the Warriors and most points they’ve scored in a game so far.

Meskwaki head coach Brian Murphy said it was important for his girls to come out of the locker room strong, and that’s exactly what they were able to do.

“We needed a dominant win,” Murphy said after the game. “We really needed to come out and set the tone early and keep the tone up throughout the entire game, and I was really proud of the fact that we kept up the intensity on both offense and defense the entire game. That was the one thing I was proudest of was the consistency of our effort throughout.”

From the opening tip, the Warriors (7-5, 5-4) were all over the Redhawks (2-11, 0-8). No one showed that more than Payton Tahahwah, who had six points in the first four minutes as her team jumped out to an 11-2 lead.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Tahahwah finished with a game-high 21 points, a mark that also matched her career best, and Murphy said his junior took his message before the game to heart.

“The thing I liked most from Peyton was she was being aggressive,” Murphy said. “That’s one thing we preach to all of our girls, one of the things I love about this team is on any given night we have five or six girls that can go off. Tonight it was Peyton, she was doing really well with attacking the middle of their zone and that’s exactly what we wanted. We see a gap, we want whoever it is to attack, and she was really seeing the floor well tonight.”

Tahahwah said her motivation for starting off so strong was what her coach told them before the game.

“Coach said we have to come out knowing that we are going to win this game, and we did,” Tahahwah said.

When in the few parts of the game Tahahwah wasn’t scoring, Deandra Navarro stepped in and picked up right where her teammate left off. After the initial 11-2 start, North Tama crept back in and made it a 16-11 game with just under two minutes left in the first quarter.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Navarro quickly stretched that lead back out, hitting on back-to-back 3-pointers to finish the first quarter with 11 points.

Navarro finished the night with 18 points — 11 in the first and seven in the third quarter — and Murphy said while his team has a balanced attack it’s nice that he has Navarro to lean on as his leading scorer.

“It’s one of those things where sometimes I will look at the scoreboard when we are done and I am surprised at how many she has,” he said. “She quietly goes about her business, and when you hit a couple of threes back-to-back, that lifts the team and gives us energy. She had another solid night and it’s not a surprise necessarily but it’s always nice when our leading scorers are consistent.”

Following Tahahwah and Navarro for the Warriors was freshman Geanna Bear with 13 points, while Abigail Iron Shell had seven and Tori Lasley and Leticia Garcia each had five.

On the other side, the Redhawks were coming off their second win of the season by beating Belle Plaine on the road on Monday, 47-45. North Tama head coach Shawn Larmore said his girls just weren’t able to replicate what gave them success the night before.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“We had a big win last night and we came out and were sluggish from the beginning,” he said. “We just couldn’t get anything going, we couldn’t rebound the ball.”

Meskwaki really hurt North Tama from behind the arc, as they hit seven 3-pointers on the night.

“Meskwaki hit some big threes, they do a good job,” Larmore said. “I don’t have a problem with that, as long as we have our hands in their face if they are going to make them they’re going to make them. It was the little things like them getting to the hoop and us playing lazy defense and not contesting layups.”

Hope Brubaker was the lone Redhawk in double figures with 10 points, while Molly Kividera had seven off the bench.

Larmore said his girls can’t get down after suffering a 39-point loss, they need to focus on what they’ve been doing right in the recent weeks.

“We are slowly getting our offense and running it better,” he said. “We are having good ball movement and taking good shots, they’re just not falling.”

Meskwaki, on the other hand, has won its last two games after dropping three straight to AGWSR, Tripoli and Janesville. Murphy said his girls need to work on bringing a consistent effort every night if they want to play to the level they are capable of.

“We’ve come out flat a couple time in the last few weeks, we had AGWSR before the break then turned around and had a real flat effort against Tripoli and lost by two,” he said. “We just hosted Janesville and I was really proud of how we played them, came out the next night and played Dunkerton flat.”

The Warriors will have a chance to avenge one of their earlier losses on Friday night when they travel to Collins-Maxwell, who handed Meskwaki its first loss in a 43-39 defeat. Murphy said he’s not worried about his girls giving a good effort against the Spartans.

“I am looking forward to our game Friday, as soon as we dropped that game early in the season we were already circling this one on our calendar and looking forward to it,” Murphy said. “That was a game that we did not look like ourselves in, and I am looking forward to getting another shot at them. We are right in that cluster with them, and that makes this a big one for us.”