After four-decade drought, Central girls are UIC champs

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Lexi Loan looks for an open path to the hoop in Central’s victory over Kee. The win kept the Warriors on top in the conference race. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Central senior Delaney Scherf scores two of her 19 points in the victory against the Hawks.

Grace Kuehl moves past a TigerHawk defender in last week's Central win.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central girls basketball team ended a 47-year Upper Iowa Conference championship drought last week, after finishing 15-1 in league play and 19-2 overall, while ranked seventh in Class 1A.


“Winning the Upper Iowa Conference was exciting. Especially with this great group of kids,” said coach Mark Wiley. “The girls stepped up to the challenge and took care of achieving that goal…It has been a total team effort with a jam-packed schedule late in the regular season.”


But things got off to a shaky start in the final week of the regular season, in a rematch against Turkey Valley, a team that was nipping at the Warriors’ heels all season. 


The Warriors got off to a slow start, down by six points at halftime, before putting up 13 points in the third period while holding the Trojans to just six. However, the fourth period came down to free throws, something that hasn’t really impacted the Warriors this season but was a pre-season concern. Against Turkey Valley, it proved to be the difference in the game. 


“We shot poorly from the free throw line and field in the game against Turkey Valley. It was a physical game and we did not meet the physical challenge. Turkey Valley took good care of the basketball and we did not force turnovers like we are typically capable of,” Wiley said. 


In the 41-40 loss, the Warriors shot 38 percent on free throws, compared to 66 percent for the Trojans, which amounted to a five-point difference. While the Warriors were more efficient on three-point shots, 38 versus  12 percent, the Trojans were more efficient overall, at 33 versus 26 percent. Central was also out-rebounded 37-26. 


Ashlyn Scherf led the Warriors with 12 points, and Haley Frieden put up 10 points, five assists and three rebounds. Delaney Scherf scored six and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Hannah Asche picked up six points and two rebounds. Grace Kuehl contributed five points, five rebounds and three steals. 


Central went into the following game versus Kee needing a win to maintain the conference lead. The Warriors dominated from the outset, putting up 23 points in the first period, while the Hawks only mustered six. By halftime, the Warriors were ahead by 20. When it was all over, Central handed Kee a 29-point defeat, 68-37. 


The Warriors fixed their free throw shooting woes, going 9-12 against the Hawks, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc. 


Three Central players were in double-digits, with D. Scherf earning 19 points, followed by A. Scherf with 15 and Frieden 12. Kuehl added five points, four rebounds and three assists. 


In total, 11 of 15 players scored for the Warriors, and the team finished with 14 assists, seven steals and two blocks. 


The final game of the week was at home against North Fayette Valley, who finished third in the conference. The Warriors understood the assignment and dispatched the TigerHawks 60-36, after shooting over 40 percent from the field and on three-point attempts.


D. Scherf put up a team-high 22 points along with six steals, four assists and three rebounds. Frieden added 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks, while A. Scherf contributed nine points and three rebounds. Kuehl chipped in eight points and three rebounds and Asche scored five points with two rebounds. 


The Warriors will get a week off as they prepare for their Class 1A Region 6 quarterfinal match-up on Tuesday, Feb. 14. They will play in Elkader versus either Kee or Edgewood-Colesburg, with a tip-off time of 7 p.m. 

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