IMS perseveres at home
KALONA — Iowa Mennonite and WACO looked set to battle in a defensive struggle down to the wire.
IMS led by 3 points at the break.
“It was a struggle to score in the first half,” said head coach Aaron Gingerich. “Senior Casey Perez got injured right away. That took the air out of our team a little bit. We struggled to score early on. They made it tough to execute.”
Perez had a dislocated knee, according to Gingerich.
A basket from senior Olivia Yutzy put her team ahead by 5 to start the second half.
However, two missed free throws and seven missed shots allowed WACO to tie it up at 24-24. Junior Riley Schmieder ended the drought with a bucket with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
“We have been working as a team to move the ball,” Schmieder said. “Working more together to get to the basket instead of going one-on-one.”
After a pair of free throws from WACO brought it within 1, Yutzy made sure WACO would not take the lead of tie the game.
She scored the next 6 points of the game.
“She was huge,” Gingerich said. “She is our leader and we expect her to make those plays. The team did a good job of getting her the ball inside where she can be effective. She finished well around the rim.”
Senior Kristin Davis hit a momentum- building 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 38-30.
With 3:31 left Hannah Miller knocked down a trey to give IMS its first double-digit lead of the game at 42-32.
The game was the first time that IMS tested the waters with a 2-3 zone.
“The girls did a good job of adjusting and made it hard for WACO to score,” Gingerich said.
WACO was held scoreless in the final 3:30.
“The girls really grinded it out in crunch time,” Gingerich said. “I think we can do a better job of rebounding in our zone.”
Schmieder finished with a game-high 20 points, including 12 in the first half and a double-double with 11 rebounds.
“Riley was huge for us in the first half,” Gingerich said. “She kept the game close and carried us. Nobody else was able to put the ball in the basket (in the first half). She had the hot hand.”
Schmieder said her team had a rough shooting night.
Yutzy didn’t. She was the team’s second leading scorer with 13 points as she attacked the rim when her team struggled going 2 of 9 from long range.
“We normally have good shooters, but had a hard time knocking down shots,” Gingerich said. “I thought the girls found another way to win. Getting the ball inside and playing more inside-out.”
Yutzy and junior Cassidy Bontrager each had seven rebounds. Yutzy led the team with five assists and four steals.
Davis had four assists.
WACO junior Aaliyah Brown led her team with 9 points.
IMS travels to Columbus for a 6 p.m. start, Friday.
The Warriors host Highland at 6 p.m., Friday.