After two consecutive two-point losses prior to this game, the South Tama County ninth grade girls showed their mettle January 9 and rebounded against Grundy Center, 36-33.
South Tama fell behind in the first quarter, 12-6, but reversed that in the second quarter, leaving things all tied up at the half, 20-20. Erin Clayton's three baskets along with Sydney Upah's four points helped pace the Trojans. Also getting into the first half scoring mix were Naomi Hoskey, Taylor Ellenbecker and Kristin Upah.
"I told the girls at halftime we could pressure them and they couldn't handle our press. So, we needed to get out there and go all out, and if they got tired, let me know and we'd get subs in," said STC ninth grade coach Julie Berger.
The girls responded with what turned out to be the key quarter in the victory. South Tama had five field goals by five different players plus a pair of free throws, while holding the Spartans to just six points.
Taylor Ellenbecker started things off with a basket with 6:25 to go to make it 22-20 Trojans. Sydney Upah followed with a basket at 6:08. Betz added one at 4:35, Clayton at 2:51and Tori Appelgate hit with 2:22 left. Clayton calmly drained a pair of freethrows with 1:01 to go for the final points of the quarter. South Tama was out front, 32-26.
The Trojans only scored four points in the fourth quarter, but when Betz put South Tama up by six with 1:36 to go, the Trojans were in control in the low-scoring game. South Tama prevailed, 36-33.
"What we need to look at is getting the ball inside more to Clayton," commented Berger as she looked ahead. "She's averaging close to 18 points a game and 16 boards, so we've got to get the ball in there. We'll work on that."
Clayton double-doubled against the Spartans, scoring 12 points and hauling down 15 rebounds.
"At the end of the game, it was the first time we'd run our delay and you could tell that. We'll work on that this week and get it going."
A pleased Berger reflected on the overall performance of her players.
"Syd Upah played well in many positions. She can play every position on the floor. Samantha Betz is starting to come on for us. In the beginning of the season she was hurt and we didn't have her. So, we're getting it together. Naomi's a good 'quarterback' and can run our offense and does anything I ask of her."
Scoring - Clayton 12, Betz 8, S Upah 6, Ellenbecker 4, Hoskey 2, K Upah 2, Appelgate 2
Rebounds - Clayton 15, S Upah 5, Betz 4, Ellenbecker 4, Hoskey 1
Assists - Hoskey 3, S Upah 2, K Upah 2
Steals - S Upah 5, Clayton 4, Betz 2, Ellenbecker 1, Hoskey 1
Blocks - Clayton 2