In a battle of 3A heavyweights, no. 6 South Tama defeated no. 9 Union, 41-31, in an afternoon game January 21 at the Mercy Sports Care Rivalry Shootout held at Cedar Rapids Washington High School. The Knights are from the NICL East and are leading their division.
It was a game where players had to step up and take the game in their hands. The Trojans are fortunate to have had the chance to groom players who can do that. Coach Nate Roberts has said in the past that Kaleigh Sieck plays big in the big games. Saturday afternoon was another one of those times.
"Basically, she's been a starter all year. She came in and plugged a hole where I thought we might be weak. She stepped in and did the same thing she's done before for us. But for her, she can focus on one position and I think she's going to get even better for it."
South Tama's Kaleigh Sieck (4) picks up Union's Brittany Frush (21) in second half action at the Mercy Sports Care Rivalry Shootout Jan. 21 at Cedar Rapids Washington. Sieck led the team defensively with four steals and, along with Madison Baier, led South Tama with 11 points. The 3A No. 6 Trojans put away the No. 9 Knights, 41-31. News-Herald/Jeff Barker
Sieck and Madison Baier would lead the Trojans with eleven points each. But they had a lot of help, as Roberts explained.
"Brookelyn Dvorak came in and did a helluva job. I mean, she boxed out like I knew she would and did some things like I knew she could do. She didn't try to do too much, and that's what we need her to do. Taylor Van Dyke came in and gave us some very good minutes in the first half."
The game started out slowly as both teams got their sea legs in the first quarter. From late in the second quarter on, the Trojans took control.
After Kylie Powell broke the ice with 6:59 to go with a three and Breann Bader scored 40 seconds later, the Knights took an early 5-0 lead over the Trojans. Sieck finally got the Trojans on the board when she was fouled making a basket with 4:42 to go. She missed the free-throw but followed 39 seconds later with a three to tie it all up, 5-5.
That was the pattern through the first quarter. Kourtne Smith would tie it all up again with eight seconds to go, making the front end of a two-shot foul, 9-9.
For the first nearly three minutes of the second quarter no one could score. That changed when Baier hit with 5:05 remaining. Union's Payton Hilton scored moments later to tie things back up, 11-11. Hilton led all scorers with 17 points for the afternoon.
Jade Rohach's bucket with 4:19 left in the half would give the Trojans the lead at 13-11. Kendra Bradley's three would make it 16-11, but the Knight's fought back. Two baskets by Hilton and a bucket by Whitney Blunt gave Union the lead back, 17-16.
The half ended in the Trojan's favor. When Baier hit with 1:06 to go, South Tama had the lead for good, 18-17. Rohach hit a buzzer-beater and after three ties and five lead changes, the Trojans went in at the half ahead, 20-17.
Peyton Bockholt hit on Union's first offensive trip up the floor in the third quarter to close it to one, 20-19. But Baier took charge of the game and scored the next three baskets, the last one coming at 5:22. With the Trojans now surging, 26-19, the Knights took a time out.
The teams traded scores. Sieck scored with an acrobatic move under the bucket at the buzzer to make the score 28-21, Trojans, after three.
Thirty-eight seconds into the fourth quarter, Dvorak was fouled, making the second of two. Sieck was fouled 25 seconds later and made both freethrows to give South Tama its first double-digit lead, 31-21. When Kendra Bradley hit with 6:05 to go, South Tama was cruising with its biggest lead, 33-21.
Powell and Hilton were the one-two punch for Union, but together they could only trim the lead to 37-30 with 4:20 to go. The Trojans were getting scores, too, from Rohach and Bradley. With only 4:20 left, the Knights called a time out.
Hilton made a free-throw with 3:42 to go. South Tama took a time out with 2:42 left and a 37-31 lead to set up the final minutes of the game.
Baier's free-throw at 1:15 gave the Trojans a three-possession lead, 38-31. With 48 seconds to go, Sieck went to the line for a one-and-one. The Knights were trying to get the ball back and needed some misses and rebounds. They got the misses, but not the rebounds.
Sieck missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Rohach was right there to snag the rebound. Smith was fouled with 42 seconds left. She missed but Sieck got the rebound for the Trojans. Smith was fouled again with 32 seconds left, making the first but missing the second. Thirty-nine to thirty-one in favor of South Tama.
The Knights had fouled three times, lost sixteen seconds off the clock and got just one possession out of it. The Trojans scored with one last slick move under the bucket by Sieck with four seconds left. Final score, 41-31, Trojans.
With important holes to fill in the lineup heading down the stretch, Roberts has some work ahead of him. He is fortunate to have a deep bench to pull from.
"We're going to need Amelia Hoskey to start stepping up. We'd like to play her out on the wing. We haven't played her much out there so I want to give her a week of practice there, but she's going to become a huge part of the team now."
Hilton had a phenomenal game with 17 points, 12 above her average. But Powell, who averages 13, was held to eight. Together they were 25 of Union's 31 points. The other Knights were taken out of the game.
"I'm alright with that. It was a good team win," said Roberts.
With wins against both Union and Aplington-Parkersburg, the Trojans have now defeated the two top teams in the NICL East. The Trojans currently have a two game lead in the West with four divisional games left.
The Trojans had eight team fouls and were 6 for 16 from the line. Union was 1-3 with 14 fouls.
South Tama is 14-1 (9-1). Union falls to 11-2 (9-0)
South Tama played Wapsie Valley at home Jan.24 and travel tomorrow night to Conrad to play the first game of a boy/girl double-header against BCLUW.
Scoring --Baier 11, Sieck 11, Bradley 8, Rohach 6, Dvorak 3, Smith 2
Rebounds -- Rohach 8, Baier 5, Sieck 5, Bradley 4, Smith 4, Dvorak 1, Team 2
Assists -- Smith 5, Rohach 3, Bradley 2, Baier 1
Steals -- Sieck 4, Rohach 2, Bradley 1, Baier 1, Dvorak 1, Smith 1
Blocks -- Baier 1