A strong second quarter by the South Tama girls basketball team was enough to separate itself from rival East Marshall and earn its first victory of the season.
After dropping its opening two games, South Tama broke open its second North Iowa Cedar League game during the second quarter. The Trojans held East Marshall scoreless for more than seven minutes before entering halftime with a 20-point lead. The Trojans (1-2, 1-1) never led by fewer than 14 points during the second half as they beat East Marshall (0-5) 53-37 Tuesday night.
"It feels really good," senior Jade Rohach said. "It's about time. It's always good to win and beat East Marshall."
STC coach Marsha Keahna said the win was well deserved, because her players did what they were asked to do offensively.
"It was good to get the win," Keahna said. "The girls did some things we asked them to do, such as slow the offense down, run our offense and actually pass the ball to look for some good shots. They did that tonight. We put the pressure on the ball and our press was effective. We even had the middle girl sag off a bit and she was able to pick off some of those passes in the second half. That gave us momentum to run our fast break."
South Tama's defense was most evident during the second quarter. They held East Marshall scoreless for more than seven minutes, before the Mustangs scored a layup with 48 seconds left in the half. STC's defense caused the Mustangs problems as they were called for nearly a dozen traveling violations.
Offensively, the Trojans doubled their first quarter total at halftime. During the first half, seniors Kaleigh Sieck and Rohach led the Trojans with eight points each. Senior Megan Wanatee added six points to the Trojans 30-10 halftime lead. Juniors Paige Van Dyk and Trisha Walz each had four points at the break.
"Tonight, we worked our offense more and got the ball around," Rohach said. "We moved the ball into the post more and just moved it around better. I think we are starting to mesh a little bit better, because we haven't all played together. My grade has played together and the juniors have played together, but this is the first time for all of us together. Now we're starting to synchronize together and that's good."
East Marshall started to chip away at the Trojans' lead in the third quarter, as it cut it to 14 points in less than three minutes. The Trojans responded with a three-pointer from Wanatee, a layup from Walz and a three from Van Dyk. Heading into the fourth quarter, the lead was still 15 points after late buckets from East Marshall.
The Mustangs missed four consecutive free throws to open the final quarter before Sieck buried a three-pointer for South Tama. The lead remained at 15 points or higher during the remainder of the game. STC's final basket was a three-pointer from junior Hailee Weiss.
"We're still learning," Keahna said. "We're still trying to gel together as a unit. We have these spurts where they do the right thing. They always hustle, so it's just a matter of putting everything together. Hopefully, we can start hitting our stride by mid-season."
The Trojans coach was pleased with her team's defense, especially on East Marshall sophomore Taylor Fricke, who is a post player that can shoot from the outside. STC frustrated her all night with in-your-face defense and she was called for numerous traveling violations.
"Their front court is a bit younger than ours," Keahna said. "I thought Trisha and Hailey did a really nice job of shutting down their best post player, Fricke. They were on her all of the time. She has some height on us, so she did get off a few shots. We didn't let her have anything outside, which took them out of their rhythm a bit."
Rohach also said the STC defense is improving and it showed Tuesday.
"Our press is getting better," she said. "Tonight, we trapped better on the sidelines and didn't let them beat us up the court too much."
Sieck and Wanatee led the Trojans with 11 points each. Rohach added 10 points to the win.
South Tama will travel Friday to State Center to play West Marshall. The game will begin at 6:15 p.m.
"They were pretty excited in the locker room," Keahna said. "That first win always feels pretty good. We know that we played three tough teams, but now we have to regroup mentally for West Marshall on Friday. It's going to be tough."