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GMG girls make it three straight Thorn Compton T-R Assistant Sports Editor tcompton@timesrepublican.com
December 27, 2018

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GARWIN - A frustrating first half of offense for the GMG girls basketball team led to a one-point halftime deficit in a home game against Riceville on Friday night, but despite trailing 24-23 the Wolverine girls weren't worried. They proved that when the second half started as GMG started the first two minutes on a 7-3 run to take its first lead of the game at 30-27, and the Wolverines would never look back as they eventually beat the Wildcats 56-46. GMG head coach Justin Hornberg said what helped his girls pick up the victory was a newfound energy on the defensive side. "The message at halftime was to be more aggressive," Hornberg said. "It was a one-point game at halftime, we found some things we could do that were effective, we just needed to do them better. I think Kelsey [Vaverka] getting aggressive and active in the middle of our press was a big key, as well as Zoe [Duncan] on the front setting good traps." Both Duncan and Vaverka took advantage of Riceville mistakes throughout the contest. Duncan finished the night with a game-high 15 points, and she got many opportunities at the basket on fast breaks due to some stellar defense. Vaverka followed with 11 points, six of which came in the second half. She also had three blocks and at least as many steals in the press. Duncan missed a slew of shots in the first quarter but got it going the rest of the way through, and she attributed the defensive intensity as a reason for her success. "I just had to really slow down and not think about it," she said. "We finally got the ball movement going how we like it and it worked for us, thank goodness." Midway through the second quarter the Wolverines (6-3) trailed 20-10, but they never looked panicked or worried about the score. "It was only the first half so we knew we had time to pick it up," Duncan said. "We had like three minutes left and we knew we still had to bring it." The GMG girls closed out the half on a 13-4 run to make it just a one-point deficit. Hornberg said the reason Riceville (3-8) was able to build an early lead is his girls just didn't have the aggressiveness they usually possess. "The biggest problem was I didn't see a lot of urgency on our part," he said. "On Tuesday against North Tama in our 1-3-1 it seemed like we were able to turn them over at will and then get layups going the other way, but I didn't see the same urgency against these guys. We switched to the full-court zone press then dropped back to the zone and made them make shots. Once we got a few turnovers and we started getting going that helped." In the first quarter only three girls were able to score, but in every quarter after at least five girls made a basket, which Hornberg said is typical of his team. "It's contagious with us, once we get one to go through the basket it seems like the next girl feels like she can make it," he said. Even when the shots weren't falling the Wolverines kept up their defensive pressure, and Hornberg said both Madi Krull and Emily Vaughn were key in that despite dealing with illness. "Both Emily and Madi were sick, Madi had been out with walking pneumonia all week so this was her first time back and Emily got sick on Wednesday after the North Tama game," he said. "Having those two on the floor at the same time really seems to help and gives us a steadying presence. Going forward that's a combo we are going to have to keep looking at." Vaughn finished the game with eight points and Krull had five, all in the second half. Tory Novotny was third in scoring behind Duncan and Vaverka with nine points, and Mable Dieleman had five points in the first half before an injury in the second kept her on the sidelines. With the win the GMG girls are off to their best start since beginning the 2008-09 campaign at 7-2. They've had two three-game winning streaks already, with one three-game losing streak sandwiched between, and Hornberg said his girls did well to get their sixth win before the calendar turns to 2019. "We haven't finished 6-3 before break in a long time that I can remember, and that was the thing. After we lost our three-straight games, with the tough loss to Meskwaki and the beating we took at Colo, we looked at these three games as ones that we should win and wanted to win," Hornberg said. Duncan said she is happy with the start as well. "Starting 3-0 to start off, that was super nice," she said. "Losing three games was hard but now we are picking it up again." The Wolverines can't rest on their laurels just yet though, as Hornberg said there's plenty to play for down the stretch, including this senior class trying to remain above .500 for their career for the first time in Hornberg's eight years at the helm. "We are looking forward to what we've got coming, we've got Dunkerton right after the break and we've historically played them well whether they are ranked or down," Hornberg said. "It's always been a good game between us for the last four years. We've got a really good Janesville team twice after the break, we've got Clarksville after the break, there's not going to be any gimmies left for us on this schedule." GMG 56, Riceville 46 At Garwin RICEVILLE (3-8) - O'Malley Fair 4 2-4 12, Josie Gansen 3 0-1 6, Aby Adams 3 1-2 8, Brynn Hermann 5 0-1 11, Julia Klaes 2 0-0 5, Saige Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Lauren Hermann 0 2-2 2, Rylie Dunn 0 1-2 1, Abby Retterath 0 1-2 1. TOTALS 17 8-16 46. GMG (6-3) - Zoe Duncan 7 1-6 15, Mable Dieleman 1 3-4 5, Tory Novotny 4 1-2 9, Emily Vaughn 3 2-4 8, Kelsey Vaverka 4 2-5 11, Madi Krull 1 2-2 5, Belle Duncan 1 1-2 3, Jordan Yilek 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 12-27 56. RICEVILLE 14 10 9 13 - 46 GMG 8 15 15 18 - 56 3-Point GoalsRiceville 4 (Fair, Adams, B. Hermann, Klaes), GMG 2 (Krull, Vaverka). Total FoulsRiceville 18, GMG 16. Fouled OutKlaes.

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