Courier sports staff
At the beginning of the season, the girls basketball team most expected to reign supreme in the South Central Conference was in Clarke.
With just one senior lost from a team that won all 10 conference games in rout to last year’s title, the Indians were a definite favorite to retain their SCC crown. There wouldn’t have been many people that would have picked against Clarke as conference play got underway
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont head coach Tony Fenton would have been one of those few that wouldn’t have picked the Indians. He looked at his Rocket girls as the team that would finish at the top of the SCC.
“One of our at the beginning of the season was to be conference champs,” Fenton said. “The kids believed in themselves and they worked hard in the summer to get to this point.”
The Rockets achieved that season-long goal Friday night in Albia. EBF raced out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back, winning 45-25 over the Lady Dees to clinch at least a share of the SCC title.
“That’s what most of the team wanted to be was conference champs,” senior Jarrah Jensen said after scoring a game-high 14 points in the SCC title winner. “We improved so much over the year. The freshmen became as good as the seniors.
“All the hard work paid off. We believe in ourselves.”
No score was reported from Clarke’s SCC finale with Davis County on Friday. The Indians could retain a share of the conference title with a win, but would share it with an EBF team that beat the Indians twice this year.
“No matter what, it’s definitely better than second,” Fenton joked. “We stubbed our toes a couple of times that could have allowed us to win it outright (without any help), but we put it in our hands. We beat the team we needed to beat and beat them on their court.”
EBF’s defense played a big role in the conference-clinching road win on Friday. The Rockets created 22 Albia turnovers with 19 steals leading to several transition scoring opportunities. The first four of those steals came in the opening minutes and helped EBF score the first nine points of the game.
“The key to the game was in those first three minutes,” Albia head coach Larry Achenbach said. “Even though it was scoreless, we had gotten some good looks but we weren’t able to convert. That’s when we got a bit tentative and started turning the ball over.”
Even when they didn’t get steals, EBF’s consistent ability to get their hands on Albia passes kept the Lady Dees from taking advantage of one edge on the floor. Brooke Bettis and Katie Dyson, who combined average almost 20 points and 15 rebounds were held to just four points and 14 boards by the Rockets.
“We were trying to front the post and keep the ball out of Bettis and Dyson’s hands,” Fenton said. “We wanted to take away their inside game and force them to beat us from the outside.”
Albia had no answers from the outside, making just two 3-pointers out of 21 attempts. For the game, the Lady Dees hit just nine field goals, shot 16 percent as a team and never got within single digits after EBF scored 10 straight points to open a 19-4 lead.
Junior Tasha Alexander, EBF’s leading scorer produced just eight points herself. Alexander instead shared the wealth, dishing out five of EBF’s 10 assists while coming up with six steals to key the transition game.
“It was pretty nice. I didn’t need to run as much,” Alexander said of the Rockets’ transition balance. “We work really well as a team and we keep getting better and better.”
Kristyn Garver led Albia with six point. The 3-16 Lady Dees, who take on Knoxville this afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, have lost ninth straight conference games and have just one more chance to win in SCC play at Centerville on Tuesday.
“We only have three seniors and start just one,” Achenbach said. “We’re going to have to put the time in to be as good as someone like EBF.”
The Rockets, meanwhile, head to Moulton-Udell today before wrapping up the regular season at Colfax-Mingo on Monday. EBF (12-7, 8-2) then embarks on a tough postseason road in Class 2A, Region 6 that could include defending 1A state champ North Mahaska and Little Hawkeye power Pella Christian.
“I think we’re ready,” Jensen said. “We’re ready to make it to state and accomplish some more goals.”
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 45, Albia 25
EBF 12 13 16 4 — 45
Albia 4 9 6 6 — 25
EBF (45) — Jarrah Jensen 14, Shunyl Busch 9, Emma Tanner 9, Tasha Alexander 8, Makenzie Jensen 3, Sadie Baugher 2. Totals 14-45 13-19 45.
3-point goals — 4-15 (J. Jensen 3-3, Busch 1-4, Shelby Allgood 0-3, Alexander 0-5). Rebounds — 44 (M. Jensen 12, Alexander 9, J. Jensen 9, Busch 6, Tanner 2, Allgood, Baugher, Grace Lee, Blaire Moore, Paige Reck, Paige Shafer). Assists — 10 (Alexander 5, Allgood, Baugher, J. Jensen, M. Jensen, Tanner). Steals — 19 (Alexander 6, M. Jensen 6, J. Jensen 4, Allgood, Baugher, Tanner). Blocks — 8 (Alexander 2, J. Jensen 2, Tanner 2, Busch, Shafer). Total fouls — 12. Turnovers — 24.
Albia (25) — Kristyn Garver 6, Cassie Crall 5, Brooke Bettis 4, Sarah Clarke 4, Hayley Hudson 3, Makenzie Griffin 2, Kylie Peterson 1. Totals 9-55 5-16 25.
3-point goals — 2-21 (Crall 1-5, Hudson 1-8, Clarke 0-1, Peterson 0-1, Suzi Strasko 0-1, Griffin 0-5). Rebounds — 41 (Bettis 9, Griffin 6, Clarke 5, Katie Dyson 5, Jenna McLain 5, Garver 5, Crall 3, Peterson 2, Hudson). Assists — 6 (Griffin 3, Clarke 2, Peterson). Steals — 12 (Bettis 3, Clarke 3, Griffin 3, Crall, Hudson, Peterson). Blocks — 3 (Taegen Bossard, Dyson, McLain). Total fouls — 13. Turnovers — 22.