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Trojans suffer emotional season ending loss to North Polk

February 20, 2019
By Allison Graham - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Saturday's season ending loss was a tough way to go out especially for eight seniors, many of whom have played together for several years. The STC Trojans (12-8) met up with No. 1 ranked North Polk (21-2) in Pleasantville on Saturday evening. On the line was a trip to the IGHSAU State Tournament.

STC faced a similar situation last season when they were under dogs to West Marshall. The Trojans surprised everyone maybe even themselves, punching their ticket to the state tournament after a close and hard-fought battle. This year it just wasn't in the cards.

Cool, calm and collected was how the Comets were on and off the court. They were all business and played with a confidence and speed the Trojans hadn't seen much of from other teams this season. North Polk built an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter, 17-9. By halftime they more than doubled their lead, taking control of the game with a 40-18 halftime score.

Article Photos

Jessica Musgrave grabs a rebound on Saturday night. The Trojans fell to No. 1 North Polk in round three of Class 3A -Region 7 action.
Chronicle Photo/Allison Graham

STC Head Coach Todd Dale acknowledged the difficulty of the task in front of them heading into the regional final game.

"We knew coming into this ballgame that they are just a really solid team," he said. "We thought we could match up with them pretty good, but you know, we are just not deep enough on our bench to stay in man against them for four quarters. When we switched to a zone, they killed us with threes. We just didn't have the speed to come in off the bench and they are a fast team," said coach Todd Dale.

A struggle of this Trojan team all season has been ball handling. Saturday was no different. They made some costly mistakes with turnovers.

"We made a lot of unforced passes, but it also came down to their speed," Dale said. "We've faced some pretty good teams, but we haven't faced this speed before. They move from point A to point B faster than any team we've seen, and they look faster in life than they do in film. That was part of our turnovers that we made, especially in the first half, the timing wasn't there. Our girls also started to get mentally down a little bit, which added to that," said Dale.

North Polk really let the offense fly in the second half. The Comets were led by sophomore All-State combo guard and Drake University recruit Maggie Phipps who finished above her season average with 22 points. Phipps was 8-15 in field goals, 4-6 from the line and made two from the perimeter. The Comets were a solid shooting team as Jaedon Murphy and Katie Brown also finished in double digits with 10 and 13 points respectively. Brown ended the game going 3-7 from the three-point line.

While it wasn't the way they wanted to end, Dale is proud of the team he has coached for just two years.

"The girls had a great season, they need to hold their head high," he said. "When I came into this position I was told we weren't going to win much. We went to the state tournament our first year and we are in the regional finals the next year. These seniors were the scraps, maybe, of the team before I came, but I would never ask for better scraps.

With the Trojans closing out their season they will say goodbye to nine senior players and one manager including Jaelin Berger, Abbie Morgan, Jessica Musgrave, Taylor Ray, Madison Rohach, Queta Wanatee-Diego, Zoee Buffalo, and Abby Buffalo.

"They were awesome kids to work with as a group, even the kids who didn't play a lot were such big contributors to our program. They never complained, just always worked hard trying to get better. You can't ask for more out of anybody, these girls will be truly missed at South Tama," said Dale.

Two STC seniors finished the season among the stat leaders in Class 3A this year. Jaelin Berger finished third in Class 3A in blocks with 52 while Jessica Musgrave has been a leader on varsity since her sophomore year. Musgrave led Class 3A last season in scoring. This season she has dominated in steals, capturing 97 which is good for second place in Class 3A. She is headed to Upper Iowa University next year to continue her basketball career.

"(Jessica) is going to go and she's going to be noticed, I expect to see her play a little D-I ball before she graduates," he said. "I think she is that caliber, she's that coachable," said Dale.



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