Central girls stumble against MFL MarMac

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Warrior Ashlyn Scherf defends Bulldog player Ashley Shaw in the Dec. 21 game in Elkader. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Grace Kuehl takes the ball up the court in last week's game versus the Bulldogs.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

 

It was an early season battle for conference supremacy when the Central Warriors took on the MFL MarMac Bulldogs Dec. 21. Central overcame a slow start in the first period, going down by nine, and were able to pull within one by halftime. 

 

The teams traded the lead during the next two periods. But the Warriors were undone by a combination of factors, including 29 points scored by Bulldog star Riley Moreland, untimely fouls and ongoing struggles at the free throw line, resulting in a 58-54 loss. It dropped them to second place in the conference behind the Bulldogs and to 7-2 on the season. 

 

The slow starts have also been a trending concern, causing the Warriors to get down early, and this game was no exception. It allowed the Bulldogs to take advantage and establish control of the game. In this game, that slow start was a result of errors in communication. 

 

“Communication is key in everything in life, not just basketball,” coach Mark Wiley said. 

 

The mistakes in communication meant the defense wasn’t locking down the Bulldogs, especially Moreland, fast enough, allowing them to get to the rim. Central was unable to stop the Bulldogs from driving in the lane to hit shots, which they did, shooting an impressive 47.1 percent from the floor. Add early shooting struggles for the Warriors, and Central found itself digging out of a hole. 

 

But dig they did, coming out of halftime to take the lead in the third period behind the shooting of Ashlyn Scherf, who scored a career high 16 points, while Hannah Asche scored a season high 12. 

 

After falling behind in the fourth period, Central tied the game at 45 on a field goal by Carly Kluesner. At that moment, there were five minutes left in the game, and while the Warriors were able to contain Moreland in the second half, holding her to just seven points, the rest of the Bulldog lineup hit key shots down the stretch. They also converted from the free throw line, making 21 of 32 attempts.

 

“Our defense made good adjustments. It was unfortunate we got called for four fouls in the third quarter and, according to the officials, they were all shooting fouls. Some of these foul shots happened at the end of the game, when we were trying to extend the game, but many were shot by them throughout the game. They made 21 free throws, which was nearly the same amount as we attempted,” said Wiley. “I thought both teams were aggressive to the basket and had opportunities at the free throw line. We just didn’t convert at a rate that is necessary to win a close game.”

 

The loss also undercuts the fact the Warriors led in almost every category of the game, including field goals made, three point shots made, steals, assists, offensive rebounds, second chance points and points off turnovers. They also finished with just five turnovers, the lowest number in the last 15 years, but the difference in the game came down to free throw attempts and makes.

 

As the Warriors head into the holiday break, they know they have to improve on slow starts and free throws, something Wiley is committed to. 

 

The team will have a three game week when it returns, starting with a home game on Jan. 3 against Central City. Two games on the road follow, first at Midland on Jan. 6, then on Jan. 7 at Postville. 

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