Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 22, 2014

2014 All-GTNS Girls’ Basketball Team

By Ashlee De Wit, GTNS Writer | Mar 18, 2014
Photo by: Journal file photo Phil Long

Area girls’ basketball teams fell shy of the state tournament this season, but still featured some top talent — ranging from Class 1A to Class 4A players, and from freshmen to seniors. Some athletes on this year’s all-Golden Triangle News Service are familiar faces, and some are and newcomers to the all-area team.
Washington Coach Phil Long is one of the familiar faces.
Long has been coaching the Washington High School girls’ varsity basketball team for the past nine seasons, and has won 122 of the 200 games he coached — including 47 of his 72 conference games in that time.
This year, he led the Demons to a 15-8 overall record and 5-3 mark in the Southeast Conference, rallying his team to a strong finish in the SEC season. The Demons won their final three conference games — beating each team that had dealt them a loss earlier in the year — to finish in a second-place tie with Mt. Pleasant.
The team’s effort earned Long his fifth-straight all-GTNS large schools Coach of the Year title in his final season — he recently announced his retirement from coaching the Demons due to health issues.
One of the players who helped Washington finish the season strong was the all-GTNS large schools captain, Grace Redlinger. The senior was quick on the court for the Demons, and her 81 steals were third in the state for Class 4A.
Redlinger finished the year averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. She has already been selected first team all-conference and third team all-state by the Class 4A coaches, and now earns all-GTNS honors for the first time.
Teammate Dema Giardino was the point guard of the Demon girls’ basketball team, and also makes her first appearance on the all-GTNS team. She averaged nine points, four rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.8 steals in her senior season. Giardino adds her all-GTNS selection to all-conference honors.
Mt. Pleasant also finished 5-3 in the conference this season and went 14-8 overall, led in large part by players who earned their team’s offensive player of the year and MVP awards this season: senior Taryne Shull and junior Kelsi Phipps.
Shull led area large-school teams with 12.7 points per game for the Panthers, but her value wasn’t only on the offensive side of the court. She also had a conference-high 123 defensive rebounds and was second in the conference with 6.9 boards per game, behind only Phipps.
Phipps led the conference with 7.3 rebounds per game. She was third in total offensive rebounds with 81 — just 11 behind the conference leader, despite missing the first three games of the season — which helped her to her average of 11.1 points per game.
Shull and Phipps each earned first team all-conference honors for their efforts this season; Shull was also an all-district and third team all-state selection.
Both Panthers make a repeat appearance on the all-GTNS team — Shull for the second time and Phipps for the third time in as many varsity basketball seasons.
Fairfield’s Hanna Greiner is also back on the team after her senior season.
The 6-1 center was Fairfield’s second highest scorer and was the team leader on the defensive end. She finished fourth in the Southeast Conference with 148 rebounds and grabbed 27 steals. Her presence was really felt in her 63 blocks, which is seven more than she swatted last season and 51 more blocks than anyone else in the conference.
Teammate Sami Fritz rounds out the all-GTNS large schools team. The rookie ran the point for the Trojans and proved she was ready to orchestrate the offense in her freshman season.
Fritz led Fairfield with 8.5 points per game and finished second in the conference with 84 assists. She also grabbed 102 rebounds, which was good for second on the team. The Trojans may be losing a large senior class, but Fairfield coach Mick Flattery will still have his point guard for three more seasons.

Small schools

Among the area small schools this season, one stands out in its effort for a state tournament bid — the Winfield-Mt. Union team didn’t quite make the state tournament, but it took the eventual state champions to stop them.
As a result, this year’s all-GTNS small schools Coach of the Year is W-MU’s Mitch Wachs.  
He guided the Wolves to a 19-5 overall record and a regional final appearance, where W-MU put up a valiant effort against a tough Burlington Notre Dame team, outscoring the Nikes in two quarters of the state-qualifying game — even without one of his top players and senior leaders.
The W-MU girls rallied late in the season, coming together as a team to finish the season strong after losing Shelby Therme to injury.
Even though she missed games late in the year, Therme led W-MU in a number of categories this season.
She had a team-high 10.4 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 54 assists and 29 blocks for the Wolves, and makes her first appearance on the all-GTNS team for her efforts.
The only player returning from last year’s all-GTNS team is this season’s captain, Morgan Christner.
The New London sophomore proved to be a huge asset to the Tigers on both ends of the court this year, averaging a double-double as the New London team doubled its wins from the previous season.
Christner, who was an INA second team all-state selection,  had 14.2 rebounds per game, the second-highest average across all classes in the state, and averaged a team-high 13.6 points per game.
Christner is one of three sophomores on this year’s all-GTNS small schools team, indicating a bright future for some area basketball teams. The other second-year players are Highland’s Cheyanne Adamson and Pekin’s Beth Atwood.
Adamson averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.83 assists, 3.21 steals and a block per game this past season for the Huskies, and was a choice for second-team all-Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division this season as well.
There weren’t many players in the SEISC-North that had a season like Atwood, who averaged 18.9 points per game and finished second in the conference in steals (93) and rebounds (238).
When postseason play arrived, the first team all-conference selection was at her best. She recorded a double-double in both of Pekin’s playoff matchups, including a 23-point, 19-rebound performance against B-G-M (Brooklyn).
The all-GTNS small schools team also includes one junior and one other senior.
Van Buren’s junior guard Kaitlyn Johnson was a deadly offensive threat this season.
Johnson finished third in the SEISC South in scoring with 14.8 points per game. Named to the all-SEISC South first team, Johnson finished first on her team in assists (44) and steals (68). Her season was capped off when she dropped 30 points on Cardinal in the playoffs, going 6-8 from three-point range in the process.
Last but far from least, Olivia Yutzy finishes her basketball career at the Iowa Mennonite School as one of the most prolific scorers the school’s girls’ basketball program has ever had.
A unanimous selection for first-team all-conference honors, Yutzy topped the 1,000-point mark for her high school career during this past season, IMS’ best for a girls’ team in 15 years.
She averaged 18 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.16 steals, 1.54 assists and 0.63 blocks per game in her senior season.
The Golden Triangle News Service teams are selected by sports editors Ashlee De Wit (Mt. Pleasant News), Allyus Fritz (The Fairfield Ledger) and Derek Helling (The Washington Evening Journal).

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