Warrior girls continue to find ways to win, improving to 9-0

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Hannah Asche and the Warrior defense made in-game adjustments to help defeat MFL MarMac 63-47 on Jan. 6. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Gracie Cummer battles for a rebound in Central’s 48-36 win over NFV on Jan. 3.

Ashlyn Scherf takes the ball up the court in last week's conference win over the TigerHawks.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The weather couldn’t stop them, nor could the holiday break, as the Central girls basketball team returned to the season last week with renewed vigor, making easy work in two games against conference opponents while moving to number eight in the Iowa Class 1A rankings and improving to 9-0. 


The Warriors have 11 games remaining on the schedule, barring any future weather cancellations, which have wreaked havoc on the end of the year schedule, which will see Central play six games in 10 days. Five will be in the conference, where the Warriors currently hold a two-game lead in the standings over Turkey Valley and North Fayette Valley. 


But that stretch is still two weeks away, and the Warriors had business to attend to this past week, with two conference games on the road, which highlights another impressive element to the team’s current success. The Warriors have only played three home games all season, but yet continue to stack up wins. 


The first win came against the NFV TigerHawks Jan. 3. While the Warriors eventually rolled to a 48-36 win, they started the game slowly, ending the first period down by four points, and actually went into the half down by three. 


The second half was a different story, as the Warriors put up 16 points in the third and fourth periods, while shutting down the TigerHawk offense. That was especially true in the fourth period, where NFV was limited to just six points, turning what could have been a disastrous start to the second half of the season into an icebreaker for upcoming games. 


“NFV gave us some trouble defensively; offensive rebounds were at a premium for them. We struggled to stop their attacks to the rim. Again, we overcame these with better defense in the second half. We also were able to force more turnovers in the second half. We gave up a season high 21 offensive rebounds, but were fortunate to only give up eight second chance points,” coach Mark Wiley summed up after the game. 


The win against NFV was aided by Grace Kuehl’s play on both ends of the court following halftime, as she scored seven consecutive points in the third quarter to give the team a spark. Delaney Scherf was a calming force, playing a “very under control” fourth period, and led the team overall on offense, scoring 18 points and shooting over 54 percent from the field. Ashlyn Scherf contributed eight points along with four rebounds and two assists, and Hannah Asche put in five points. 


The defense came away with 13 steals, led by D. Scherf with four, Kuehl with three and Gracie Cummer and Haley Frieden with two each. Central also forced 22 turnovers and held the TigerHawks to 0-11 on three-point shots. 


“Leadership was key in the third and fourth quarter as we did not panic, stayed within ourselves and built a convincing lead in the fourth quarter,” Wiley said. 


In the Jan. 6 game against MFL MarMac, the Warriors almost let an early 18-point lead slip away, allowing the Bulldogs to cut it down to eight points at halftime. However, in-game adjustments on defense in the third period righted the ship and the Warriors started producing turnovers and scoring points, putting an end to the Bulldog comeback and leaving town with a 63-47 victory. 


“In the MFL MarMac game, we got off to a great start behind Hannah Asche’s three three-point field goals. We built an 18-point lead off our ability to attack the rim and limit our turnovers. The second quarter we did not take care of the basketball the way we should and MFL converted in their offense. MFL cut the halftime lead to six on their first possession, but then we got things clicking on offense. We switched up defenses and scored 21 points off Bulldog turnovers,” Wiley said. 


Leading the Warrior offense was D. Scherf with 24 points, to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Asche was clutch in the first period with the three-point shot and finished the game with 12 points, while Frieden added nine points, five rebounds and five assists. A Scherf contributed six points and two steals. 


MFL MarMac finished with a higher shooting percentage, besting the Warriors with 37 percent compared to 32, but the large disparity in free throws aided the Central victory. The Warriors shot 23 free throws compared to the Bulldogs’ 10, and made 91 percent of those free throws.  


“Free throws were a major difference statistically in this game. We got to the line by being aggressive on the offensive end and we did an awesome job on the offensive boards,” Wiley explained. 


In addition to the free throws, the defense finished with 11 steals and 18 turnovers and held the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, Grace Anderson, to 12 points, below her season average of 18.


“Cummer did an excellent job of defending Grace Anderson inside. Anderson had six points going into the fourth quarter and scored her other six points late in that quarter. We, defensively, did a great job helping off our primary defender to lend assistance to Gracie or Frieden when they were guarding Anderson,” Wiley said. 


The Warriors have back-to-back games this week, first at 3-10 Central City on Jan. 9. The team hosted 3-8 South Winneshiek on Jan. 10.

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