Friendly confrontation

Former travel ball teammates Madison Bartholomew (left) and Shaylin Drish (right) collide as Drish tries to defend a pass thrown by Bartholomew during Monday night’s girls prep basketball contest between Van Buren County and Fairfield at Fairfield High School Gymnasium. Bartholomew scored 17 points and had five assists in a 66-51 road win for No. 7 (2A) Van Buren County.

FAIRFIELD — When you’ve blocked more shots than any Iowa High School girls basketball player ever, you’re going to get attention.

Word is out on Van Buren County senior Taryn Scheuermann. Attack the basket at your own risk.

Scheuermann was only able to add one more block to the all-time state record for a career on Monday, swatting a 3-point attempt by Darby Kaska in the fourth quarter of seventh-ranked (2A) Van Buren’s 66-51 win at Fairfield on Monday night. The mere presence of the 6-3 senior in the paint seemed to be enough to influence the offensive attack of the Trojans, who attempted just two shots inside the 3-point arc in the entire first half.

“It definitely took the drive right the basket away from us,” Fairfield senior Shaylin Drish said. “We were able to kick it out to the shooters. They were able to hit some of those shots, so it wasn’t terrible, but going straight to the basket (with Sceuermann inside) was definitely a factor.”

Van Buren County is back in action Tuesday night at Holy Trinity while Fairfield returns to Southeast Conference play Thursday hosting Fort Madison. Monday’s game was the rubber match between the schools with each winning by eight points at home over the past two seasons.

“We’ve been playing Van Buren since we were in middle school. I’ve played on a traveling team with Maddi (Bartholomew). We’ve created that bond over the years,” Drish said. “We wish Van Buren the best of luck. Hopefully, they make that run to the state basketball tournament.”

Scheuermann produced a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Warriors jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back. Isabel Manning scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the opening quarter, including a scoop lay-up that beat the buzzer and opened a 24-5 lead for VBC.

“This is the best that I’ve felt in a few weeks,” Manning said. “I always have fun playing with my teammates. It was fun to see them win even when I wasn’t in the line-up.”

Monday’s game was the third back for Manning after dealing with a flu bug that kept the Warrior junior bedridden for over a week. In her absence, VBC (14-2) earned an impressive 71-68 road win at West Burlington on Jan. 14 followed by a 50-12 victory over Cardinal three days later, keeping the Warriors in the hunt for at least a share of the Southeast Iowa Superconference South Division title.

“She (Manning) didn’t get out of bed for eight days. I thought she joined a monastery and left us,” Van Buren County head coach Matt Zeitler joked. “She was really sick. She practiced the day before we played WACO (on Jan. 20) and scored 18 points in one half.”

Besides Manning, Van Buren County has had to deal with the flu bug making its way around the school. The Warriors had to gut out a 51-47 SEISC South win at Central Lee last Tuesday before actually catching a break when more winter weather moved through the area last week.

“Isabel’s legs were really tired late in that Central Lee game. She missed a free throw short and that just doesn’t happen to her,” Zeitler said. “Grace Davidson had to find a waste basket during that game because she was playing with the bug. Thank goodness we had four days away from school due to the weather. The best thing that could have happened for our girls was to stay away from other students so they hopefully don’t catch the bug as well.”

Scheuermann and Madison Bartholomew, so far the only Warrior players to avoid illness this season, combined for 35 points against the Trojans (7-6) with Bartholomew scoring 17 points and dishing out five assists. Fairfield nearly shot their way back into the game late in both halves, pulling within 34-23 at the half thanks to five makes from 3-point range.

Delaney Breen led Fairfield with 15 points, making all five attempts from 3-point territory including a shot to open the fourth quarter that sparked a 7-0 Trojan run. Fairfield got as close as 12 points on three separate occasions in the final eight minutes before a second-chance jumper by Manning following a basket inside by Grace Davidson put the Warriors up 63-45 with 1:35 left.

“It was a good game that you could never really feel comfortable in with the lead,” Zeitler said. “We needed that 10-0 start. It tested the girls, which we need to see at this point of the season.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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