By Jeff Barker
Top-ranked South Tama travelled to Ackley January 6 to take on AGWSR and came away with their eleventh win of the season, 65-20.
This view of the Trojan defense is what AGWSR's Kim Ellingson saw a lot of January 6 as she looks for somewhere to go. South Tama's Kendra Bradley (3) makes sure it does not go to Jayne Wiarda, the Cougar's leading scorer. Defending for the Trojans, Taylor Van Dyk (21), Megan Wanatee (13), Bradley, Jade Rohach (33) and Kaleigh Sieck (5). News-Herald/Jeff Barker
The Trojans again saw the same defensive strategy employed against them that they have seen all season. Do everything you can to shut down Madison Baier and hope for the best. Baier is used to being double-covered all night. Tonight, the Cougars went further.
"They were basically running a diamond-and-two (defense)," commented head coach Nate Roberts, "keeping three girls down low on our big girl (Baier). Then they had two girls man-to-man on Kourtne (Smith) and Dia (Keahna) at the start. It's a matter of taking and making some shots out of the wing."
They may have held down Baier, but everyone else stepped it up. As one Cougar fan said, "You guys have so many weapons!"
Both teams started out a little slowly offensively at the beginning of the game, perhaps knocking off a little rust from the two-and-a-half week layoff. The Cougars finally broke the ice at the 5:30 mark when Laura Eiten scored first for a brief 2-0 lead.
Keahna went to work, answering with a basket of her own thirteen seconds later. Eiten scored again with 4:52 to go. Keahna answered again, stealing the ball and converting it into a layup to make it 4-4 with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
Baier's first score of the game 30 seconds later was the start of the end for the Cougars. A bucket by Keahna, a trey by Kaleigh Sieck, and another basket by Baier ended the first quarter, 13-5.
The second quarter saw the Trojans explode for 27 points and hold AGWSR to just two.
The Cougars may have held Baier to just two points in the quarter, but Jade Rohach, Kendra Bradley, Megan Wanatee, and Smith torched the Cougars for a combined 25 points.
"When we do that, when we start opening up that outside, people got to change, and if they're not going to change, they're going to get beat by 45," said Roberts.
The Trojans went in at halftime ahead, 40-7.
After the break, the Cougars continued to try and take away Baier and the inside and South Tama made them pay. Starting at 6:07, Keahna was unconscious from the field for the next two minutes.
At 6:07 Keahna drained a three, 5:42 a two plus a free-throw, 5:05 another two, and 4:08 another three. The lead was 51-11.
Sieck's basket and free-throw made it 54-14 after three periods.
The fourth quarter gave the Trojans an opportunity to play everyone and get some more experience. The final score by a starter came at 6:43 from Baier, and with just under six minutes to go, South Tama called off the dogs -- and sicced a new pack on them.
Over the final five-and-a-half minutes of the game, Sieck, Shelby Bradley, Brooklyn Dvorak, Katelyn Behounek, Samantha Magpie and Amelia Hoskey put up nine points of their own while giving up only five defensively to build the margin of victory to 45, 65-20.
Besides Keahna's third quarter dominance, Roberts also acknowledged the efforts of a couple other players finding their stride.
"I thought Kendra Bradley did a nice job of staying with it. She's hit huge shots in her career. She needs to keep shooting that ball. She also picked up seven assists tonight. it was a complete game. Jade (Rohach) started a couple of times getting her spots in some plays, and that's huge."
Roberts knows it is going to get tougher. "We've got to get a lot of work out of more people."
After one complete rotation through the NICL West, South Tama stands 11-0, 7-0 for the season. The Trojans hosted Grundy Center January 10.
Scoring - Keahna 17, Rohach 10, Sieck 9, K Bradley 8, Smith 6, Baier 6, Dvorak 4, Wanatee 3, Hoskey 2
Rebounds - Baier 7, K Bradley 5, Rohach 4, Smith 3, Behounek 3, Smith 2, Keahna 2, Van Dyk 2, Dvorak 2, Magpie 2, S Bradley 1
Assists - K Bradley 7, Smith 3, Sieck 3, Wanatee 2, Rohach 2, Keahna 1, Baier 1, Van Dyk 1, Behounek 1, S Bradley 1
Steals - Sieck 6, Baier 4, Keahna 4, Smith 3, Rohach 3, K Bradley 1, Wanatee 1, Van Dyk 1
Blocks - Baier 2, Dvorak 1, Magpie 1