Warrior girls remain atop conference, but lose undefeated season

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Grace Kuehl was responsible for nine points in Central’s blowout victory of Postville last week. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Delaney Scherf drives around a West Central defender in the Warriors’ 77-21 victory.

Warriors Gracie Cummer and Haley Frieden leap for a rebound in the game versus Postville.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The undefeated season came to an end last week for the Central girls basketball team, as the onslaught of four games in five nights, limited practice and tired legs finally caught up to the Warriors. They’re currently clinging to the top spot in the Upper Iowa Conference as the Turkey Valley Trojans continue to apply pressure, just one game back as a match-up between the two approaches. 


The Warriors started their barrage of games on Jan. 23, versus West Central. 


According to coach Mark Wiley, they “came out firing on all cylinders,” with eight players scoring points and the bench contributing 30 in the 77-21 victory. 


The offense put up 29 points in the first period, followed by 20 in the second, and shot 43 percent from the field and on three-pointers. Delaney Scherf led the way with 21 points, and added eight rebounds and six assists.


Equally impressive was the defense, which held the Blue Devils to fewer than eight points in every period and a pedestrian 27 percent shooting from the field. The Warriors finished with 18 steals, forced 27 turnovers and had one block. 


Ashlyn Scherf scored 20 points, to go with four steals and three assists, while Haley Frieden put up 17 points, six rebounds and two steals. Grace Kuehl contributed seven points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists. 


The next game, a blowout victory over Postville, was aided by Central’s ability to force turnovers, leading to baskets in transition in a 76-23 final. 


Frieden put up the high score of 19 points, and added 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists. D. Scherf scored 18 points, to go with five steals and four assists. Kuehl added nine points, five rebounds and five steals, while Hannah Asche came in with eight points and two steals. Gracie Cummer contributed six points and three steals, and Lexi Loan put in five points and five rebounds. 


In total, 10 Warriors scored points, as they shot 45 percent from the field and 61 percent on three-pointers. 


The schedule caught up to the Warriors as they traveled to Waukon.


“We played really well in the first quarter with pressure defense and dictated the pace of play. The second quarter we got into foul trouble. Waukon settled into their offense with a high/low approach and scored efficiently. The third quarter was another quarter where we were allowed to play tough defensively and we out-scored Waukon, even with our rough shooting night. We ran into foul trouble again in the fourth, and didn’t pressure the basketball as tough as we are capable, and they found post entry after post entry, ” Wiley summed up of the loss. 


Frieden led the team with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, followed by D. Scherf with 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Kuehl added eight points and six rebounds, while A. Scherf put in seven points and three rebounds. 


Contributing to the loss was the Warriors’ poor shooting, which no doubt was the result of tired legs. The team shot just 28 percent from the field and 21 percent on the all-important three-point shot. Struggles from the free throw line also reared their ugly head, as Central went 14 for 27, and the Indians handed the team its first loss of the season, 57-45. 


“We did not shoot the basketball well overall. A credit to Waukon for not allowing us as many dribble drives and we didn’t get downhill to the basket when we had opportunities,” Wiley said. “We did not shoot free throws well. This was a big factor for us in a close game down the stretch. We have to be better than 14 for 27. They scored most of their points in the paint, and as a coach, I have to have more adjustments available to help us be successful. This game will help us be better on the defensive end. We will get better here.”


In the final game of the week, the Warriors welcomed Clayton Ridge, and despite the 50-17 win, Wiley labeled the game as “sluggish.” He said the team was still functioning on tired legs, resulting in an inability to “get the basketball into the lane for kick outs and finishing at the rim.”


“We defensively were active and caused a lot of disruptions. The team didn’t allow a field goal in the second or third quarter. We converted enough on the offensive end, but a weekend was needed to rest and get back to work on Monday at practice,” Wiley said. 


One highlight of the game was the career night by Cummer, who scored 15 points and showed tremendous hustle. 


“She just out-hustled the opponent in transition and we found her on the offensive end. Her defense was top notch and she went to the free throw line and converted on three of three,” Wiley said. 


D. Scherf added 14 points, seven steals and five rebounds, and A. Scherf put up 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Frieden dropped in six points along with six rebounds and five steals. 


The Warriors finished with 27 steals overall and forced 20 turnovers on defense, while shooting 31 percent from the field, but just 11 percent from behind the arc. 


“We shot a lot of perimeter shots in the first half, and as you can tell, we only had two three-point field goals to show for it. We did a better job in the second half of getting things on the interior of the defense with our guard play,” Wiley said. 


The Warriors will wrap up the regular season with three games this week, starting with a pivotal conference match-up at Turkey Valley on Jan. 31. A win should secure the conference title, while a loss would make the remaining two games more interesting in terms of conference standings. 


Central will finish the season at home, first against Kee on Feb. 2, then North Fayette Valley Feb. 3.


“We look to finish on a strong note with better efficiency on the offensive end with our legs under us and continue to control things on the defensive end. We currently are giving up 32.9 points per game, which is eighth in Class 1A. We need to hang our hat on our defense and take advantage of our transition game to help with our efficiency on the offense,” Wiley said. 

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