Central puts together 3-1 week

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Grace Kuehl puts up a layup versus Kee. She scored seven points in the win. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Gracie Cummer calls for the ball in Central's victory against the Pirates.

Oakley Armstrong lays in the ball for two of her seven points versus the Pirates.

Ashlyn Scherf drives past a Clayton Ridge defender in Central's conference win.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


Last week started with a tough test for the Central girls basketball team, as they welcomed then conference-leading Kee to Elkader Jan. 22. The Warriors were not intimidated, though, as they set the tone quickly on defense, limiting the Hawks to just three first quarter points while scoring 11 of their own and opening an eight-point lead. 


The second quarter was an even contest, as both teams found offensive success. Central led 24-17 at halftime. 


“Great defense throughout the game, highlighted by our ability to hedge ball screens and work to prevent the scoring opportunities off of Kee High’s offense,” said coach Mark Wiley. 


The third quarter was also closely contested, though defense kept the score low. Central’s lead fell by another point, standing at 31-25 as the game entered the fourth quarter, which turned into the highest scoring period. The Warriors struggled to rebound as efficiently, allowing the Hawks to pull within two points, but timely rebounds and a well-executed out-of-bounds set play ended with a layup and foul shots. The Warriors were able to fend off the Hawks 47-42. 


“I was proud of our team’s composure throughout the game. We didn’t get rattled when Kee High cut the lead to two points with 27 seconds left,” Wiley said. 


Oakley Armstrong provided an offensive spark for the team, finishing with six points and four rebounds. Brylee Erickson played a complete game on the defensive end and hit some big shots. She scored 12 points, including four from the free throw line. 


Ashlyn Scherf led the Warriors with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and had one steal. Gracie Cummer had the primary job of defending Kee’s best post player, and finished with nine rebounds and three steals. Grace Kuehl added seven points, six rebounds and two assists. 


The Warriors shot 34 percent from the field, including 64.7 percent from the free throw line, and forced 16 turnovers. 


Central followed the win with at Postville on Jan. 23, in what Wiley classified as a “sluggish performance,” mostly in terms of giving up 17 turnovers, eight steals and five blocks. 


From a defensive standpoint, the Warriors were productive, forcing 32 turnovers, grabbing 23 steals and blocking two shots of their own, which Wiley called a “recipe for success.” As a result, Central scored 34 points off Postville turnovers, including 18 in transition. The 61-27 score meant the game was never in doubt. 


Scherf led with 21 points and also collected five rebounds, four steals, three assists and one block. Kuehl had a nice offensive game with 10 points, and added five steals, four assists and four rebounds. 


Katie Royer and Brooklyn Amsden provided a spark off the bench, combining for 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. According to Wiley, “Their efficiency on the offensive end has helped us become more versatile on the offensive end.” 


Armstrong scored seven points along with four rebounds, and Erickson added five points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. 


The Warriors were back home Jan. 25 versus 3A Waukon and battled to a hard-fought 45-37 loss. Central pulled within one point of the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Indians converted free throws to extend the lead.


Central held the Indians well below their season average of 63 points per game, leaving Wiley pleased with the defensive effort, which forced 17 turnovers and 10 steals. 


Scherf led the Warriors with 13 points, six rebounds and two steals. Cummer was next with nine points and six rebounds, while Erickson had six points, two rebounds and two assists. 


“We really hung around in this game because we played really well defensively. We did not shoot the basketball very well from the field, with only 10 made field goals,” Wiley said. 


In the final game of the week, the Warriors traveled to Clayton Ridge. It was another “sluggish” performance, as both teams struggled to score in the first half. Central took a slim 11-8 lead into the break. 


The Warriors got the offense rolling in the second half by setting up some easy baskets in the third. Though they ran into foul trouble, they were able to keep the Eagles from closing the gap and brought home a 39-28 victory. 


Erickson was in foul trouble most of the night, but scored 10 points in her 15 minutes of playing time. Eight came to start the third quarter, allowing Central to extend the lead to double digits. Scherf had 10 points as well, and Royer stepped up with a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter to halt a Clayton Ridge run. 


“Hard to believe, but we have reached the last week of the regular season. We have two conference games and will really focus on trying to be highly competitive in these two games. We want to end the regular season on a high note and also avenge our earlier loss to North Fayette Valley,” Wiley said. 


The Warriors began this week 11-3 and in third place in the conference. Their first game of the week was Jan. 30, versus Turkey Valley. A road game against Starmont follows on Feb. 1, then the Warriors face NFV Feb. 2.

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