SIOUX CITY | Defense and rebounding were differences as West’s girls basketball team posted its biggest triumph of the season Friday afternoon.
Five Wolverines claimed at least four rebounds, topped by Jayda Graham, who came off the bench to snare a game-high eight. The same number of players had at least two steals, topped by Madison Clayton, who recorded a game-high five during a 59-48 upset over undefeated and fifth-ranked (Class 2A) West Sioux at the CNOS Foundation Basketball Classic.
“Defense was a big key,” said Clayton. “We struggle with fouling so we focused on that as well. We were told about getting stops and stopping their main players. That’s what our focus was.
“We had a couple of games where we had played rocky. This was a game where we wanted to focus on the little things that we were missing in the other games.”
Hallie Dicus scored 12 points for West (8-4). Clayton added 10 points while reserves Graham and Andrea Vazquez each tallied eight points.
Emma Mace scored a game-high 18 points for West Sioux (9-1), two more than Abbie Ericson. The Falcons shot 41 percent, but the Wolverines held the War Eagle Conference leaders to just 2 of 12 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“West Sioux is a good team, obviously,” said Boetger. “We just had to make some changes defensively. Offensive-wise, we had to do things different to get baskets because our shots weren’t falling.
“Our girls overcame adversity. When you’re not getting any calls, it’s tough to get a rhythm. We just kept working. We were patient and it ended up paying off.”
West’s transition game also shined against an opponent which was held seven points below its scoring average and committed 22 turnovers. The Wolverines had a 13-6 advantage in points off turnovers and seven of those points came in the third quarter as they rallied from a 35-31 deficit.
Dicus gave West the lead for keeps, 37-35, hitting a 3-point basket after a West Sioux turnover. Graham’s steal/layup combination concluded an 11-0 run that produced a 42-35 lead.
“We like to play fast,” said Clayton. “We run on teams. Transition is our main thing.”
West Sioux, which entered the game limiting opponents to 33.4 points per game, had gone on a 13-3 run in the second quarter to reverse an 18-17 deficit. Katey Koopmans scored six points in the spurt while Mace’s basket was good for a 28-21 lead, but West had momentum on its side, beginning with Clayton, who had a steal in the closing seconds that led to her three at the halftime buzzer.
“I think there’s a lot to be learned,” said West Sioux Coach Adam McVay. “When you go back to look at the boxscore and the stat sheet, we gave up at least 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and a fair share in the second half. I would guess we had somewhere around 20 or more turnovers against a team that was physical and plays really hard.
“It was a good test for us. If we walk away learning the little things, the fundamentals of taking care of the ball, not forcing passes, boxing out, getting rebounds and pushing it down the court under control, we could be competitive. If we limit those mistakes, we’d have a good chance of winning that game.”