South Tama moved closer to clinching the NICL West conference title January 17 when they gave the West Marshall Trojans their third conference loss, 54-42.
The win in State Center means the Trojans now have a two-game lead with four conference games to go. Grundy Center, West Marshall and Gladbrook-Reinbeck are all tied for second with three losses. Of the three, GR still remains on the schedule.
In the first meeting with West Marshall, South Tama found itself in a dog fight until they put the game away with a huge fourth quarter. This time, South Tama controlled the game from the start.
West Marshall's McKenzie Shipley (10) was frustrated all evening January 17 by Kendra Bradley (3) and the Trojan defense. Also defending are Madison Baier (left) and Kourne Smith (23). South Tama inched closer to the NICL West crown, handing West Marshall their third conference loss, 54-42. Chronicle/Jeff Barker
Dia Keahna, Madison Baier and Kendra Bradley combined for 13 points in the first quarter, while holding West Marshall's leading scorer, McKenzie Shipley, to two freethrows. STC led after one, 13-7.
The second quarter was closer, but still won by South Tama, 13-12. Baier, Bradley, Kaleigh Sieck and Kourtne Smith accounted for the Trojan's scoring. At the end of the second quarter, West Marshall was playing for the last basket to make it a two- or three-point game at the half. West Marshall launched a three that missed with six seconds left, they got the rebound and tossed up another shot that missed.
Smith came up with the ball and made a nice outlet pass to Sieck who was racing to the other end. The ball just left her hand as she drove for a layup to give South Tama the lead at the half, 26-19.
Scoring -- Baier 16, Sieck 13, Bradley 12, Keahna 7, Rohach 4, Smith 2
Rebounds -- Baier 10, Sieck 6, Bradley 6, Keahna 4, Rohach 4
Assists -- Keahna 8, Rohach 3, Smith 3, Baier 2, Bradley 1, Sieck 1
Steals -- Smith 3, Rohach 2, Baier 2, Bradley 1
Blocks -- Baier 2, Rohach 1
The Trojans put the game out of reach with a big third quarter. Jade Rohach, Baier, Bradley, Sieck and Keahna all got in on the scoring, as South Tama rolled up 16 points while holding West Marshall to a pair of freethrows by Shipley with 1:24 to go.
When Baier scored with five seconds to go to make it 42-21, you could sense the air going out of West Marshall's sails as they never even tried to bring the ball up the court for a final shot.
West Marshall chipped away at the lead in the fourth quarter as South Tama coasted in for the victory. Shipley would finally score from the floor with a three with 1:47 to go in the game, followed by a second three with 51 seconds left. She finished with ten points.
After a series of fouls and free-throw shooting in the final minutes, South Tama came away with a 54-42 win.
"Kendra Bradley did a nice job on Shipley," said head coach Nate Roberts. "People helped out on her when she needed help on her."
Offensively, South Tama took advantage of Baier who has found her stride underneath the last couple of outings.
"Dia Keahna did a great job of getting the ball into Maddie. She probably had five or six assists in just the first half. Maddie was working just as hard as she worked the last game. She's working hard, she's going to get her points. She's a big target down there."
South Tama was balanced offensively with three scorers in double digits. Baier led all scorers with 16, followed by Sieck with 13 and Bradley with 12.
Roberts likes games where the girls can learn and take away things they can improve on. This one was no exception.
"We need to do a better job of finishing defensive possessions. I thought we did a good job initially on defense, but we need to do a better job of boxing out and rebounding. They started running a little trapping defense, but it's stuff we saw all year last year. But it's good to go through that stuff, then you know exactly what's going on, what you've got to work on. It was a good game to have going down the stretch."
South Tama was 10 for 21 from the line with 12 team fouls. West Marshall was 9 for 23 with 21 fouls.
South Tama improves to 13-1 (9-1) for the season. West Marshall is 11-5 (7-3).
he Trojans played South Hardin January 20 and Union on January 21. They host Wapsie Valley tonight at 6:15 p.m.