Central girls continue winning with defensive adjustments and teamwork

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Haley Frieden added 14 points in Central’s victory over South Winn last week. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Delaney Scherf scored a game high 26 points against South Winn.

Ashlyn Scherf searches for an open teammate in last week's match-up against South Winn.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


It was another week of winning for the Central girls basketball team, as they took down Turkey Valley and South Winneshiek to improve to 7-1.


While the Warriors fell behind early in the first game against the Trojans, trailing 29-23 at halftime, they later rallied, out-scoring Turkey Valley 29-9 in the second half to get the 52-39 win. 


The turnaround was, in part, due to improved interior defense, field goals in transition and more trips to the free throw line in the second half. 


According to coach Mark Wiley, a key aspect of the win was the Warriors’ defense exposing the Trojans’ “lack of depth” and exploiting that with the Warriors’ advantage in the depth area. That was especially true offensively, where the team shot 39.5 percent from the floor but was even better at three point range, making 46.7 percent. 


The offense was led by Haley Frieden, who scored the team’s first 13 points and finished with 22 overall. Grace Kuehl added 11, while Delaney Scherf scored seven, Ashlyn Scherf scored five and Gracie Cummer scored three. In total, seven of the nine players who saw action scored points and contributed. 


Hannah Asche tallied three assists, as did Delaney Scherf, while Kuehl and Lexi Loan each had two. Frieden and Delaney Scherf also had two blocks each and Loan, Frieden and Delaney Scherf compiled six of the team’s nine steals. 


Central also out-rebounded the Trojans 36-20, with 28 coming on the defensive end, and the defense stifled the Trojans, holding them to 27.7 percent from the floor and allowing just two three-point shots out of 13 attempts. 


The come-from-behind win exemplified what Wiley described as the team’s “ability to stay the course [and] defensive tenacity.”


“Our understanding to make some adjustments on the defensive and offensive ends is a testament to the work the team is putting in at practice to be better with all facets of the game,” he added.


The Warriors needed no come-from-behind victory in their next game against South Winn, as they took a commanding 30-12 lead into halftime and never relented, winning 59-36. 


But there was one aspect of the score that raised concerns, and it was the 16-point fourth period effort by South Winn, as Central has previously allowed opponents to make late runs to close the gap. 


Wiley explained this isn’t something he is concerned with long term. Against South Winn, it was just a by-product of having a large lead and implementing things the team has “repped in practice.” 


“We were in control of the basketball game with five minutes left in the third quarter, being up 25 points. We worked on defensive things we have repped very little in practice, so we could get some things on film to evaluate ourselves. This led to some offense for South Winneshiek, but likewise, our players off the bench did a good job on the offensive end, scoring within the offense,” he said. “Nothing of concern here.  We did a good job of taking control of this game in the second quarter and being up 18 points at halftime.” 


One key to victory was the 23 turnovers the Central defense forced and the 21 points they scored off those turnovers. Delaney Scherf scored a game high 26 points and rounded out the stat line with five rebounds, four assists, eight steals and two blocks. She also shot 55.6 percent from the field. Frieden scored 14 points, with five rebounds, two steals and two blocks, while shooting 55.6 percent. Ashlyn Scherf scored eight, Cummer five and three players, Asche, Kaitlyn Wiley and Alyson Feickert, each added two points. 


In total, the team had 12 assists, 16 steals, five blocks and 37 rebounds while shooting 41.1 percent. 


The Warriors are off to another hot start, similar to last season, before they endured multiple losing streaks. Wiley believes this year will be different because the team will “stay motivated win or lose because we have team goals that embrace the process and a willingness to trust. Each time on the court, we are all trying to make each other better as a team,” he said.


But it won’t be easy, as the Warriors head into a pivotal conference game on Dec. 21 against MFL MarMac Bulldogs 5-3 (5-0 in conference). After the break, Central will endure a month-long stretch between Jan. 3 and Feb. 2 where they will play 13 games with just 11 practices. During those practices, Wiley said the team will focus on better execution on both sides of the ball.

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