For the second-consecutive game, the South Tama girls basketball team fell too far behind in the first quarter and was unable to beat its opponent.
The Trojans' slow start was difficult to overcome at Grinnell last Tuesday, but they nearly pulled off a victory over their rival. However, they fell up short during the final minutes of the contest.
Friday's home opener, was nearly a dj vu for the Trojans. However, their early deficit was much more this time and it led to an 0-2 start by the Trojans. Grundy Center defeated the Trojans 65-51.
South Tama senior Megan Wanatee attempts a three-point shot during the second half of Friday’s home opener against Grundy Center. The Trojans started slow Friday and fell too far behind to beat the Spartans. Grundy Center won the game 65-51 as STC dropped to 0-2.
"We got way behind early," coach Marsha Keahna said. "In the first quarter, we were basically dead. I don't know where we were, but we were not in the game at all. We talked about what they were going to do, how they were going to play one side of the floor and I think we handled that part well. But, when we tried to press them, we didn't handle their press break very well. They overloaded one side of the floor, passed the ball down the floor and got points off of that. Our defense was in slow-mo."
The first two minutes of the contest were a bit slow, but two free throws from senior Kaleigh Sieck gave STC its first points 2:15 into the game. STC trailed only 4-2 after the free throws. Then came a 13-0 run by the Spartans.
It started with a layup but Grundy Center scored several more layups during its first quarter spurt. STC turnovers led to easy transition points for the Spartans. Another free throw from Sieck ended the run with 2:03 remaining in the quarter. STC was able to avoid falling further behind, but it trailed 23-9 at the end of the opening period.
The deficit remained in the upper teens during the majority of the second quarter. It was cut to 12 during the opening seconds after a basket from junior Paige Van Dyk. Then six-straight from Grundy Center opened it up again.
Back-to-back buckets from Sieck were answered with a quick 5-0 run by the Spartans. However, the Trojans closed the gap before halftime. Senior Megan Wanatee drained a three-pointer with 2:44 to cut the Spartans lead to 15 points. Then baskets by senior Shelby Bradley, sophomore Erin Clayton and Sieck chopped it down to nine points, before a Spartan free throw gave Grundy Center a 35-25 halftime advantage.
"They go to one side of the floor and quickly pass ahead," Keahna said. "We just didn't hustle back. I think we outscored them in the second and third quarters, but if we play a better first quarter, it's a very different ball game."
Bradley sank a three-pointer out of the gate to open the second half and it gave South Tama momentum during its comeback. Following two Grundy Center baskets, STC cut the lead to five points with buckets from Clayton, Sieck and Bradley. It was short-lived as the Spartans closed the quarter with a 10-3 run to take a 12-point lead into the final period.
The Trojans were without senior starter Jade Rohach for most of the first half after she was whistled for two fouls during the first three minutes of the contest. She picked up another foul in the third quarter, before fouling out later in the game.
"I think they had Jade Rohach's number from the very beginning," Keahna said. "She got two fouls in two minutes and it's like she couldn't do anything right. I thought the first foul was a clean block. Then she got a third one on a tick-tacky thing when they were both going for the ball. I hate to say it, but it seems like we don't ever catch a break at home."
Without Rohach for much of the game, South Tama struggled to stop Grundy Center's inside game. The Spartans out-rebounded STC and made many of their points in the paint. They earned most of their fourth quarter points at the foul line as STC tried to extend the game during the waning moments. However, the Spartans scored their final 13 points on free throws as they made 13 of 14 foul shots.
"Our comeback was similar to the one at Grinnnell," Keahna said. "We would get close and then fall apart again. We are still learning to play with each other. We have some things to work on. We have to rebound better and pass the ball better. We had too many turnovers. If you take half of those and convert those into points, that's at least 14 points."
The Trojans coach wasn't pleased with the team's offensive execution, especially in the first and fourth quarters.
"We weren't hitting our shots," Keahna said. "We started making some in the second half, but we can't be a second half team every night. We're going to have to play from the word go if we want to win ball games.
"We need to be more patient with the ball in our half-court offense," she said. "We need to work on passing the ball around and getting open shots, instead of passing it twice and firing up a shot."
South Tama will travel to West Marshall at 6:15 p.m. Friday. STC hosted East Marshall on Tuesday evening.