Lopsided third quarter spoils Lady Warriors season opener

The Lady Warriors got the 2015-16 season underway against a familiar foe on Tuesday, November 24th. The defending Iowa Star-South conference champions, Colo-Nesco Royals came to town with a bitter end to last season still fresh in their minds. Despite just one loss in the regular season, the Royals were completely dismantled in the first round of the state tournament last year by the eventual state champs, Newell-Fonda. To help even the odds the Royals also lost 4/5 starters from last season and with Makaelyn Neuendorf side-lined for most of this season with a knee injury, the Lady Warriors looked to take advantage of a Colo-Nesco team full of inexperience. However, the upset bid fell short following an offensive demolition in the 3rd quarter by the Royals. The deficit proved to be too much for Meskwaki as they fell by a score of 64-40.

Starters for the Royals were as follows: Kassie Robinson, Grace Stalzer, Rachel Vincent, Molly Barten, and Faith Vincent.

The Lady Warriors countered with a starting lineup of: Grace Tahahwah, Marcelena Guevara, Jazmyne Roberts, Kailee Pushetonequa, and Tori Lasley.

The two teams came out of the gate with high intensity. In order to match the size of Molly Barten down low (6’1), the Lady Warriors thrusted freshman Tori Lasley into the starting mix. The move proved to be beneficial for Meskwaki as Barten was held in check the entire game. The trouble came from the Royals back court. Grace Stalzer’s height on the perimeter proved to be a problem when Colo-Nesco went to the full-court press. Meskwaki point guard Grace Tahahwah did what she could by leading the way with six points in the first quarter, but was matched by Mackenna Ruffcorn of Colo-Nesco. The buzzer sounded with the Royals out front by a score of 19-13.

The second quarter proved to be a grind for both teams as offense was at a premium. Freshman point guard Faith Vincent’s four consecutive points gave the Royals a 27-16 lead with under 30 seconds remaining in the half. Meskwaki followed by kicking it out to Jazmyne Roberts who swished home a three to pull the deficit back to within single digits at 27-19 heading into halftime.

The game took a huge turn for the worse in the third quarter. The Royals came out firing with Chelsea Henze burying a couple deep three’s to get the Colo-Nesco crowd involved. Five Royals found the scoring column in the third with at least four points each. Meskwaki just couldn’t get the offense rolling as turnovers began to pile up giving way to high percentage transition opportunities the other way. Tahahwah and Abigail Iron Shell managed to combine for seven points in a row to help dampen a 22-1 run the Royals were on heading to the fourth quarter.

With the game in the bags, the Royals began to empty their bench which provided more scoring opportunities for Meskwaki. Tahahwah finished a strong showing with seven more points in the fourth while Roberts added in another three pointer. The Royals however still managed to outscore Meskwaki 15-13 in the fourth with five different players filling the stat sheet.

The loss dropped the Lady Warriors to (0-1) on the season. However, Meskwaki will get a chance for a quick turnaround when they travel to Waterloo Christian for a 6:30 p.m. game on Tuesday, December 1st. The Regents managed just two wins last season coupled with 20 losses. Unlike Colo-Nesco, Waterloo Christian isn’t built for offense with their leading scorer last season averaging just (6.1 ppg) and just (27.0 ppg) as a team. Meskwaki won both meetings last year and will look to get back to .500 on the season. Until then, the scoring leaders for this game were as follows: Tahahwah (17), Roberts (6), Iron Shell (6), Lasley (5), M. Guevara (4), and Pushetonequa (2).