Warriors girls out to hot start in new season

Forward Summer Youngbear drives into the lane to create a shot against North Tama Tuesday evening. The Warriors have thus far handled 1A competition defeating Don Bosco, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and North Tama by double-digit margins. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

Replacing a school record holder is never easy.

It’s what Meskwaki girls’ basketball is trying to do this season after losing its first-ever 1,000 point scorer, Deandra Navarro, to graduation. Navarro is now at Marshalltown Community College.

This season, the senior guard Geanna Bear will have to step into the No. 1 role — and head coach Emmett Whalen said early practices have been promising.

“I was pretty pleased with our first week of practice, we went hard and they’re competing well,” Whalen said. “I like that. They’re pushing each other. I think we’re trying to get rid of that ‘poor me’ attitude.

“Geanna’s been a good leader.”

Sophomore guard Sia Bear puts up a shot through contact during Tuesday’s home contest against North Tama. Bear, a 2021 State Track qualifier, is a key piece of the Warriors backcourt adding speed and intensity along with an additional scoring option. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

Joining Geanna in the starting backcourt is a new transfer guard, Wakinyela Bear. Wakinyela is Geanna’s cousin, Whalen said, and her presence will help the Warriors facilitate their up-tempo offense.

Surrounding the duo there are lots of returners from last year’s roster, one that was below .500 for the first time in four years at 8-12. Summer Youngbear is now a senior in the post, and she returns healthy after an ankle injury caused her to miss the final few games of 20-21. Shye Johnson is another senior returning after significant playing time last season.

But there’s also a strong group of young players who began to earn playing time at the end of last season, and Whalen said they’ll have bigger parts to play this year.

Sia Bear and Sitara Xiavong were two players he mentioned specifically as ready to help the team.

“Sia’s really stood out, she’s attacking the bucket really well,” Whalen said. “Kalayna [White]’s been working hard and Sitara’s been shooting the ball pretty well.

Sophomore forward Kalayna White (20) and senior Geanna Bear (3) work down low to come up with a defensive rebound in the second half of Meskwaki’s conference matchup with North Tama. In the early going, White and Bear lead the team in rebounds with 19 and 15 respectively. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

“I think we got some talent, just got to see if we can mesh that together. We’re gonna try to run, I think we got some guards that can push it, that like to attack.”

Kalayna White is also expected to play a role inside with Youngbear. The young players fared well in a scrimmage against BCLUW at the Jamboree in Marshalltown and Whalen said the hope is the improved mentality in prior practices can push the team to better results this season.

Warriors start 3-0

The Meskwaki team later opened their season with consecutive wins, defeating Don Bosco and Gladbrook-Reinbeck at home.

In Monday’s season opener, the Warriors walloped Don Bosco by the final score of 46-9. Meskwaki led 32-4 at the half and eased to the win, allowing no more than four points in any quarter.

Geanna Bear takes a fast break to the hoop Tuesday evening against North Tama. Bear has been the second leading scorer this season behind Wakinyela Bear. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

Wakinyela Bear came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 17 points. Summer Youngbear scored 11 points and blocked three shots, and Sia Bear chipped in seven points off the bench.

Geanna Bear and Sitara Xiavong both pitched in with five points.

The Warriors started fast again on Tuesday night, knocking off Gladbrook-Reinbeck 58-39. Meskwaki stormed out to a 20-14 advantage in the first quarter and led 30-18 at the half.

Geanna Bear led the Warriors with 16 points, Wakinyela Bear added 14 and Sia Bear had 12. Wakinyela racked up seven assists and three steals. Kalayna White finished with six points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

In their first conference action of the season, Meskwaki took on North Tama on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Kaylana White splits two North Tama defenders to get a shot up during the second half of the Iowa Star Conference game on Nov. 30 -- Photo by Darvin Graham

The Warriors played uptempo basketball and disrupted passing lanes to force Redhawks into turnovers and mistakes. Meskwaki put the game away quickly into the second half and ended with a 55-32 win.

On the offensive end, the Warriors were paced by a season-high effort from Wakinyela Bear who put in 23 points, including three buckets from behind the three-point line.

Two other Warriors also scored in double-digits with Geanna Bear scoring 11 and Summer Youngbear 10.

The team will head out on a three-game road stint beginning Friday at GMG. Next week Meskwaki will play Tuesday at Colo-NESCO and Friday at Collins-Maxwell.