IMS girls’ season comes to close
Playing with an energy that the Iowa Mennonite team had never seen before, Winfield-Mt. Union girls’ basketball claimed a 48-35 regional semifinal win on Friday night in Winfield.
Going into the game, the Wolves wanted to emphasize crashing the boards, and winning the rebounding battle on both ends of the court helped lift them to the win.
“We’ve been preaching (rebounds),” W-MU Coach Mitch Wachs said. “We haven’t been doing a great job at it, and its a difference-maker. We have the size advantage.”
The team was led by 6-foot senior Logan Hartsock, who grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, including nine offensive boards.
“We really focused on defensive boards, but it was the offensive boards that got us going,” Wachs said.
Coming off the bench for the Wolves, Hartsock also posted a team-high 15 points, including a few second-chance points early in the contest.
“She could easily be a starter — that’s a luxury we have,” Wachs said. “I love bringing her in — she gives us so much energy.”
The whole team had a lot of energy on Friday night.
“That’s what it comes down to,” IMS Coach Aaron Gingerich said. “We told them (the IMS players) at halftime that the team that wants it more, that’s more physical — that’s the team that’s going to win. And tonight, W-MU took its game to another level.
“Obviously, they’ve been here (in postseason games) more than we have,” Gingerich added. “It would have helped to get off to a quicker start.”
In Friday’s game, IMS got on the board first, when Riley Schmieder had a jumper for a 2-0 lead.
That was the first and last IMS lead of the game, as W-MU’s Emily Mathews hit a couple shots of her own and Paige Breon made an and-one basket for a 7-2 lead.
“We hit a couple of jumpers early, forced them to change their defense,” Wachs said.
That opened up the lane for Hartsock, who had a putback to make it 9-2 with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
Hannah Miller hit a 3-pointer for IMS, but Hartsock had an and-one putback for the final basket of the quarter, and W-MU led 12-5 after eight minutes of play.
“Offensively, crashing the boards definitely helped us out,” Hartsock said. “And lots of (defensive) rebounds limited their scoring.”
The Wolves outrebounded IMS, 44-21, on the night. W-MU had more offensive boards (22) than IMS had total rebounds, and had the opportunity to win by a bigger margin than they did.
“We didn’t always finish as well as we wanted, but we got a lot of looks,” Wachs said. “We missed a lot of putbacks and left a lot of points on the board in the second half.”
Still, W-MU maintained a consistent lead throughout the rest of the game, taking a 27-19 edge into halftime and holding a 37-25 advantage after three quarters of their home game.
“I think we really believe in ourselves right now,” Wachs said. “In crunch time, we’d always look to Shelby (Therme), and she’s not there. But we have kids who can make plays, and they’ve been making plays, and it’s fun to watch.”
Therme went out with an injury in a game against Lone Tree at the end of the regular season. She was leading the Wolves in points and rebounds per game, steals and assists.
Without her in the game, the rest of the W-MU players have stepped up.
“(The key to the game) was just working together, making sure we ran our offense and slowing down, so we didn’t throw anything away,” Hartsock said.
Going into Friday’s game, IMS and W-MU had already met twice in the regular season. But with the Wolves’ lineup looking a little different in the postseason contest, Iowa Mennonite couldn’t rely on that experience.
“We told them before the game that (W-MU) was going to want to prove something, that they would come out with an edge,” Gingerich said. “It was definitely a different team than we’ve seen, with how hard they were playing. They were beating us to all the loose balls.”
The Wolves’ effort slowed down the IMS offense, and did a better job against leading scorer Olivia Yutzy than the stats show.
“With Shelby (Therme) gone, Karlie Wade stepped in — she’s got good speed, defense and hustle. I thought, Karlie’s a pest — I’ll put her on (Olivia) Yutzy.”
Yutzy averages 18 points per game for Iowa Mennonite, the 12th-highest average in Class 1A, and she scored a game-high 19 points on Friday.
“She got her points, but she didn’t get anything easy,” Wachs said.
Gingerich shared the sentiment.
“I felt like we had a good mismatch in the post early, but couldn’t take advantage of it,” he said. “Nothing was easy for Olivia (Yutzy).”
Yutzy finished with a team-high nine rebounds as well. Kristin Davis scored seven points and had a team-high four assists and two steals. Cassidy Bontrager dished out three assists and had one theft. Schmieder had six points for Iowa Mennonite.
For Yutzy and Davis and IMS teammates Casey Perez and Lauren Swantz, Friday’s game was the final game of their high school basketball careers.
IMS finished the season with a record of 14-10.
“I thought we had a really great season,” Gingerich said. “For IMS, this was the first winning season in 15 years, and that’s something we can be proud of. For the seniors, they won five games as sophomores, eight games as juniors and 14 this year. I appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in, and it’s been fun to be a part of it.”