Sieren sears IMSSophomore Madison Sieren's hot shooting lifts Keota in its regional opener
KEOTA — Sometimes, plays work out just like the coach draws them up.
Leading visiting IMS by four points at halftime of Thursday’s Class 1A Region 5 first-round game, Keota head girls’ basketball coach Jenny Hobbs called a play for sophomore Madison Sieren, her top 3-point shooter. Sieren drained a 3-pointer from the wing to open the third quarter, and then added another trifecta seconds later to give the Eagles a 10-point lead.
Keota was in control the rest of the way, winning 37-27.
“We usually start every game and every half with a set play for her just because she’s a great shooter,” Hobbs said of Sieren. “And if she makes it, the crowd is fired up. Those were huge because we’d been really struggling offensively. It got the crowd going and gave the kids momentum. It gave us a little bit of breathing room on the scoreboard so we could be a little more aggressive. They were pretty big.”
Sieren’s 3-pointers gave life to a Keota squad that led at halftime but had made just six of its 22 shots in the first half.
“It got our whole team up and ready to play,” said Sieren, who made four of her five 3-pointers in the second half of Thursday’s game.
IMS head coach Aaron Gingerich had scouted Keota on Jan. 29, watching the Eagles sink five 3-pointers in a 54-19 win over Tri-County. He worried about Keota’s outside shooters, and those concerns proved warranted on Thursday night.
“Madison Sieren hit a couple of threes at the start of the third quarter to stretch that lead out to 10, and I felt like that was really the difference in the game,” he said.
IMS got no closer than eight points the rest of the way. Junior Kristin Davis hit a 15-foot jumper to trim Keota’s lead to 24-16 midway through the third quarter, but Sieren answered with her fourth 3-pointer of the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Sieren hit her fifth shot from beyond the arc to stretch the Eagles’ lead to 12.
“She’s been spending a lot of extra time in the gym shooting, and she just has confidence now,” Hobbs said of Sieren. “If she’s struggling a little bit she’ll come in and shoot a little bit extra. Good shooters are always going to put in a little bit extra time. That’s what it takes, and you saw some results tonight.”
Sieren finished with a game-high 15 points. Sophomore Madison Sheetz sparked the Eagles early in the game, scoring eight of Keota’s 16 first-half points.
“Most teams are normally taller than us, so it’s harder for us to make inside shots,” Sheetz said. “But tonight we had an advantage inside and our guards did a good job looking in.”
Sheetz finished with 13 points and a season-high 17 rebounds. Junior Kelsi Sieren added five points and 12 boards for the Eagles, who out-rebounded IMS 37-24.
“We have no size advantage on anybody, and tonight we kind of had a size advantage,” Hobbs said.
Keota (14-8) will take a seven-game winning streak into Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal at Belle Plaine (15-6). The two South Iowa Cedar League teams split their two regular-season meetings, as Keota lost to the Plainsmen 57-47 at home on Dec. 4 but won 45-37 at Belle Plaine on Jan. 18.
“We’re ready to go play next week,” Madison Sieren said.
Junior Olivia Yutzy scored 11 points to lead IMS, and she also grabbed six rebounds. Junior Kristin Davis added seven points, and sophomore Riley Schmieder had six. Sophomore Cassidy Bontrager pulled down nine rebounds.
IMS finished its season with a record of 8-14. The eight wins were three more than the team won in Gingerich’s first season as the team’s coach.
“Overall, it was an awesome season,” he said. “We beat some good teams toward the top of our conference. I felt like we really got to a point where we could compete against pretty much anybody and make it a game.”
IMS loses two seniors — starter Hannah Gingerich and reserve Anya Slabaugh — to graduation.
“The leadership we had from our two seniors, Anya Slabaugh and Hannah Gingerich, set the tone for our team,” Aaron Gingerich said. “They are an example of what we want our team to be about. They’re just two humble, hard-working girls. It’s not about them. They always had good attitudes. I couldn’t ask for better examples and leaders than those two.”
With just two seniors graduating and the team’s top scorers and rebounders returning, Aaron Gingerich has high hopes for next season.
“We’re excited about the future of our team,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of youth combined with quite a bit of experience now. I feel like next year will be a year that we can really improve our overall record and can challenge teams at the top of our conference consistently. I feel like we’ll have a chance to do that next year with good leadership and good experience. I’m looking forward to it.”