After having assured themselves a share of the NICL West crown with a win over Gladbrook-Reinbeck Feb. 1, South Tama County claimed the title outright with a big win against AGWSR February 3, 51-16.
"Kind of a surprise, a celebration. A lot of hard work goes into this," observed head coach Nate Roberts about the mood in the locker room after the game.
Trojan point guard Kourtne Smith added, "It was pretty awesome! Our whole team was going crazy. That's the first time it's ever happened at South Tama where two years in a row we were conference champs."
AGWSR struggled against the South Tama defense February 3 in the round house. Going for the ball (L-R) are Jade Rohach, Kourtne Smith, Kendra Bradley and Madison Baier. The Trojans held the Cougars to just 16 points on way to winning the NICL crown outright for their second consecutive conference championship. News-Herald/Jeff Barker
But before the Trojans could lay sole claim to the title they already had a share of, they had to win one of their last two conference games. AGWSR was next in line to try and keep the STC juggernaut from finishing the job. The Cougars must have felt as if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Madison Baier got things rolling with a bucket one minute into the game. The quick 2-0 score gave the Trojans a lead they would never relinquish. Stymied by a defense led by Kendra Bradley's seven steals, it took the Cougars until the second quarter to find a way to score.
Baier had a noteworthy scoring attempt with 1:26 left in the first quarter. After being fouled, she went to the line for two. She missed them both, but it would turn out to be South Tama's only trip to the free-throw line the entire game.
Smith's three with 20 seconds left made it 10-0, STC, after the first quarter. It did not get any better in the second quarter for the Cougars.
After a bucket by Baier and another three by Smith with 7:02 left, AGWSR was still looking for points. At the 6:10 mark Ella Frazier finally found the bucket and the Cougars got on the board, 15-2.
Like every team South Tama faces, AGWSR tried to clog things up in the middle and force the Trojans to score from the outside. In the second quarter, STC scored a two-pointer at the beginning of the quarter and one at the end. In between, the Trojans knocked down five, three-pointers. The half ended with South Tama comfortably ahead, 29-9.
The Trojans also hit four more threes during the game for a season high of nine on 36 attempts.
"I know we jacked up a bunch," said Roberts. "Every team's giving us that three-pointer. As the year goes along, you hope you can get more adept at hitting that three-pointer. Nine three-pointers -- I'm happy with that."
The threes ended up accounting for over half of South Tama's points, 27 out of 51.
Jade Rohach continues to assert herself everywhere on the floor. Baier opened the scoring with 7:10 to go before Rohach briefly took over the game. Her score with 6:18 to go made it 33-9 Trojans.
She immediately followed that with a steal on the defensive end of the floor. In transition, Kaleigh Sieck dished it back to Rohach who finished it off with another bucket, 35-9. It was typical of the play of the Trojans the entire game.
"Jade's always big. Good athlete, good aggressiveness. She's got to be one who finds her spots as we go along here," said Roberts.
South Tama built the lead to 44-13 after three before finishing off the Cougars with a 7-3 final quarter. Except for Megan Wanatee who is still recovering from an illness, and two sophomores who just recently were brought up to complete the lineup, the Trojans were again able to get everyone in.
Roberts reflected on the Trojans' two consecutive conference championships from two different conferences, the Little Hawkeye and the NICL, and also sized up the two conferences.
"We didn't know any of these teams going into the year, kind of going into it blind. I thought the kids really adjusted well to the style of play, having to play lock-down defense.
"You adapt to change. Change in style of play -- a little bit slower. A little bit more physical, I think. I thought they really banged, each team, underneath. Each night out, each team really banged underneath. We're (the NICL) as tall, maybe not as big, but just as physical as our old conference."
After cutting down the nets, Smith and her teammates are looking to finish the year with a bang. According to South Tama's "quarterback," she's ready for the immediate future.
"I want to win them all (from here) out -- through state! Don't even lose!" beamed the Trojan senior.
South Tama finished the night with 12 fouls and was 0-2 from the line. AGWSR was 6-14 with seven team fouls.
The 3A no. 6 Trojans are now 18-1 (12-1) for the season.
The Trojans had an afternoon game against Grinnell Feb. 4, followed by a makeup game with South Hardin Feb. 7.
The Trojans travel tonight to Van Horne to take on 3A no. 1 Benton Community.
Shooting - K Bradley 14, Sieck 13, Baier 10, Rohach 6, Smith 6, T Van Dyk 2
Rebounds - Baier 8, Sieck 6, Rohach 5, K Bradley 3, T Van Dyk 3, Dvorak 1, Hoskey 1, Behounek 1
Assists - Bradley 5, Sieck 3, Smith 3, Rohach 2, Hoskey 2, Baier 1
Steals - Bradley 7, Sieck 2, Rohach 2, Hoskey 1, Smith 1, Baier 1
Blocks - Baier 4