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Basketball Woodbury Central at Kingsley-Pierson

Kingsley-Pierson's Jayde Barto, right, is defended by Woodbury Central's Maddie Paulsen during a high school basketball game in Kingsley, Iowa, on Friday.

KINGSLEY, Iowa – Through the past 4.5 years the Kingsley-Pierson High School girls’ basketball team has won 99 games against 11 losses. The Panthers of Coach Nicole Goodwin have claimed Western Valley Conference titles and earned a pair of state bids.

On Friday evening before a packed house in Kingsley, the Panthers again served noticed that any league title hopes would pass through here. Kingsley-Pierson battled, passed and hustled to a 62-54 victory over neighbor Woodbury Central in a contest that may well decide the regular-season title in the league.

Goodwin’s unit, now 12-1, has a perfect regular-season loop ledger. The visiting Wildcats, meantime, suffered their first conference loss. The teams have a pair of games remaining before a post-season tournament.

The key stretch of this contest likely occurred early in the fourth quarter. Junior Jayde Barto swished a 3-pointer just before WC’s Sidnie Graff connected to break a 44-44 tie.

Panther Madison Goodwin, a senior, then splashed a 3-pointer and followed-up a missed shot for a 49-46 lead. Delaney Iseminger then made a layup to put KP ahead, 51-46.

The hosts then forced four straight WC turnovers before a free throw by Camrin Baird, a Woodbury Central freshman, made the score, 51-47.

The lead expanded to six points when Hayden Dunne followed a Woodbury Central miscue by making a layup for a 53-47 lead.

Three WC field goals by Maddie Paulsen (2) and Autumn Weaver down the stretch were countered by six Barto free throws and three charity tosses by Iseminger.

“At the half, we talked about staying tough and having a short memory, you have to forget about the last play and keep after it,” said Coach Goodwin. “I was proud of our effort because we’ve got some new faces and some young players.”

Goodwin lauded her oldest daughter, Madison, the captain with keeping all the oars rowing in the same direction, so to speak.

“I don’t often compliment her, but I really should tonight,” Goodwin continued. “She’s done a good job working with everyone and maybe we are gelling now.”

Pressure, the coach said, can either “make diamonds or burst pipes.”

This gymnasium has seen a few jewels in the last 4-plus years as the Panthers have averaged 22 victories per season against just 2.5 losses.

Woodbury Central broke out on top as post Paulsen weaved her way around the basket for eight quick points to help build a 15-8 lead. She would end the half with 10 points.

The Wildcats, however, left several opportunities go for naught as they misfired on nine of their first 10 free throws. WC went 5-15 from the charity stripe in the first half, while KP converted just 10 of 17.

For the game, the Panthers made 20 of 32, while Woodbury Central, which shoots 55 percent from the line, made eight of 22.

Paulsen led the Wildcats with 22 points, while senior Sidney Steffen had 11.

Barto paced a balanced home attack with 15 points, while Madison Goodwin and Iseminger each had 14. Goodwin’s output came with a trio of 3-point shots.

Woodbury Central, which was the last visiting team to win in Kingsley, having done so in January 2017, falls to 12-2, suffering losses to a pair of rated Class 1A clubs in KP and Newell-Fonda.

The Panthers improve to 12-1 and currently sit at No. 13 in the Class 1A rankings.

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