SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | What appeared to be the makings of another blowout for top-ranked (Class 3A) Sioux Center turned into a relatively close girls basketball game here Friday night.
West Lyon mounted a comeback from a 21-point halftime deficit, cutting it to single digits in the closing seconds before Sioux Center scored the game’s final bucket in a 57-46 Siouxland Conference triumph.
Sioux Center (9-0) distanced itself from the previously unbeaten but unranked Wildcats (9-1) in the first half, but West Lyon refused to fade completely away. The Wildcats, who trailed 37-16 at intermission, outscored the hosts 30-20 in the final two quarters, limiting the Warriors to six points in the fourth.
When Jordyn Kramer scored off her 16th rebound of the game, West Lyon pulled within nine points with 15 seconds left. But returning all-stater Lexi Toering hit a 15-footer to produce the double digit victory for last year’s 3A state runners-up.
“We really came out with a lot of intensity in the first half and I think a lot of things went our way that half,” said Toering, who scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds. “It gave us a goal for the second half to come out and do the same thing we did in the beginning.”
Toering and Shayla Post, whose hot hand carried the Warriors in their big first half, were each starters on a squad that went unbeaten all the way to last year’s 3A title game before falling to Pocahontas Area. A third starter, Jordyn Van Maanen, is out with an injured hand.
Victoria Rensink and Camryn Cleveringa, two key reserves from a year ago, have moved into the starting lineup but the rest of the cast of characters is new for Coach Doug Winterfeld.
“We lost a lot of key players from last year and I think a lot of people on our team have stepped in and taken their role and are doing really well with it,” Toering said. “We’ve all started to click really well together, which is helping us keep the same intensity we had last year and still try and do the things we did in years past.”
Post was on fire from beyond the arc, nailing six of seven 3-pointers. She scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the first half. Sioux Center made 11 of 15 in the first quarter, scoring the first nine points and racing to a 26-9 lead.
“West Lyon is not going to give up, there’s a reason they’re 9-0,” Winterfeld said. “We had some good stretches and I think we got a little relaxed when we got our sizeable lead. Then we were maybe just going through the motions, took some ill-advised shots and kind of went on Christmas break.
“Credit the girls, we still found a way to win. We just had a stretch there where we didn’t play very well.”
The Warriors continued to apply their trademark defensive pressure in the second quarter, once again limiting West Lyon to single digits. The lead grew to 51-25 at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter, but Sioux Center scored only six points the rest of the game.
“It was kind of a tale of two different halves,” West Lyon Coach Ryan Brasser said. “We knew what they were coming in, No. 1 rated in 3A and to add to that them shooting real well in the first half was kind of a bad combo for the Wildcats.
“But our girls didn’t give up. That’s a game if we don’t have mentally tough players they could have cashed it in and it could have ended up 40 instead of 11. The 9-0 start was kind of a testament to our girls’ work in the off-season. We kind of ran into a juggernaut tonight but we’re hoping to continue to build on what we’ve done and have a good second half.”
Jordyn Kramer – all 5-foot-6 of her – was a rebound machine with 16 caroms and also scored a team-high 13 points. Madysn Grotewold added 10 points for the Wildcats.
West Lyon reeled off eight unanswered points after trailing 53-33 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Sioux Center, after scorching the nets in the first half, made only 8 of 30 shots in the second.