"Twentieth win of the year -- that's a big win for any program!" remarked head coach Nate Roberts after the Trojans put away the South Hardin Tigers on senior night Feb. 7 in the Round House, 64-49.
Even though the final score made the game look closer than it really was, the Trojans did not need a big effort against the 6-15 Tigers tonight. South Tama lost two more girls to illness and the deep bench South Tama has groomed is not so deep right now, as Roberts pointed out.
"The game takes its toll. You're used to having a deep bench, and right now you don't have a very deep bench, because your deep bench has become your number one and number two off the bench right now."
Driving for the basket is Trojan senior Taylor Van Dyk. Van Dyk had a breakout night against South Hardin Feb. 7, scoring 20 points in the Trojan's 20th victory this season.
STC's no. 2 rebounder Jade Rohach and Baier-reliever Brooklyn Dvorak were ill and did not play. After shifting players around and reassigning some roles, the Trojans started two new players for the game, Katelyn Behounek and Taylor Van Dyk.
South Tama started out strong. But as the game progressed, Roberts could see his players flagging.
"As a team, we didn't shoot the ball very well at all tonight. A lot of it, I think, is because a lot of kids are under the weather, not feeling well. They're playing more minutes. They're playing out of position a little. I was asking a lot out of Maddie (Baier) having her out on the floor a lot."
It might not have been STC's best performance of the year, but even in those kinds of games, someone usually steps up. Tonight a couple of players did that.
Madison Baier was, well, Madison Baier tonight. The 6-4 senior double-doubled against the Tigers and showed why teams stay in a collapsing zone against her, even when they are down by 30 points. When she is one-on-one, she can play.
Baier ended up with a team-high 23 points and game-high 16 rebounds. Add to that four big swats and you have a pretty good evening of work for the Iowa State recruit.
Van Dyk also stepped up and made the most of her night. The team may not have shot well as a whole, just 35% from the field, but Van Dyk was red hot. The senior was four for four from the three-point line, shooting 64 percent overall.
Van Dyk ended up with 20 points and six rebounds. Her shooting prowess has not gone unnoticed by Roberts.
"She can shoot the ball. She's a good shooter, got good form, and has been shooting it well in practice. She had twelve points on Saturday (against Grinnell)."
The first quarter pretty much did in the Tigers. The Trojans knocked down four, three-pointers in the stanza, getting two from Van Dyk, one from Kendra Bradley and one from Kaleigh Sieck. After one, South Tama led, 24-11.
The second quarter was marked by more of the same. Even though Roberts did not feel the girls played up to what they are capable of, there were glimpses of excellence along the way.
With 2:20 to go in the second quarter, Amelia Hoskey made a great steal, brought the ball up the floor and dished off to a wide open Baier under the bucket for two to give the Trojans their first 20-point lead of the game, 41-21.
A 43-26 lead at the halfway point proved to be too much for South Hardin. In spite of Kayla Prosser's game-high 24 points, the Tigers could do little more than play the second half two points better than the Trojans.
"The second half was just different," said Roberts. "We just lost our legs, lost our drive, lost our focus. When that happens to a team, it's tough to get the wheels back on. Luckily, we didn't need all the wheels tonight."
South Tama was charged with ten fouls and was outstanding from the line, going 12 for 14. South Hardin had 17 fouls and was four for seven.
The 20-1 (13-1) Trojans wrapped up the regular season Feb. 9 at 3A no. 1 Benton Community. South Tama hosts the first round of regionals against Nevada (9-12) tomorrow night. Should they advance, they would most likely host 3A no. 14 Ballard in the regional semi-final Feb. 18.
Scoring - Baier 23, Van Dyk 20, Bradley 13, Sieck 6, Hoskey 2
Rebounds - Baier 16, Van Dyk 6, Sieck 4, Bradley 1, Hoskey 1, Smith 1
Assists - Smith 9, Baier 5, Sieck 4, Bradley 1, Hoskey 1
Steals - Sieck 4, Smith 4, Baier 2, Bradley 1, Hoskey 1, Van Dyk 1
Blocks - Baier 4