MMCRU girls hand No. 15 Akron-Westfield another loss

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Above, MMCRU’s Taylor Harpenau goes for a layup against Akron-Westfield. Harpenau finished with 15 points in the game to finish second on the team in scoring behind Ellie Hilbrands who had 18 points.
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil)

REMSEN — It hasn’t quite been the start the Akron-Westfield girls basketball team was hoping for after beginning the year ranked. Following a loss to fellow ranked team Westwood in their season opener, the Lady Westerners dropped a 61-47 game to MMCRU on Tuesday, November 27.

“I thought our inexperience showed a little bit tonight,” A-W Head Coach Kent Johnson said. “Tonight we just seemed tentative in our offense. Marcus played hard. They’ve got some nice players. They played aggressive, got some steals from us and denied us in our offense.”

The Royals meanwhile have started the year 2-0 following an opening game win over Storm Lake St. Mary’s.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” MMCRU Head Coach Gillian Letsche said. “The last couple times we’ve played them it’s always been a nail-biter within three or four points.”

MMCRU built up a seven point lead at the end of the first quarter with a Jaylen Bork 3-pointer providing the final points of the frame for the team in part of her seven point performance.

The Westerners pulled to within a possession and had a chance to get to within two as McKenna Henrich made a basket and was fouled, but she missed the shot at the free-throw line to complete the 3-point play. The Royals stretched their lead back out to 10 by halftime and really started to pull away in the third quarter as they built up as much as an 18-point advantage midway through the quarter.

The Westerners were held scoreless for more than three minutes to start the second half while the Royals got 3-pointers from Madison Treinen, Taylor Harpenau and Molly Reuter in the span of the first few minutes of the third. The 3-pointer would be Harpenau’s only made shot from the floor in the second half, but she made five shots in the first half and ended the night with 15 points.

Akron-Westfield was able to cut the deficit in half to nine points, but that was by the final minute of the game. Letsche said she takes responsibility for allowing the Westerners to come back late in the game.

“Part of that was probably my fault,” Letsche said. “I told the girls I only want a bucket if it’s a wide-open layup. We need to be able to control the game, control the basketball. They are so aggressive. I commend Akron for that. They are very aggressive and they don’t give up. I think that’s where we were like, we need to keep pushing. We finally figured it out and then we started going again. Once I let them go again, they were fine.”

Chloee Colt and Kassy Vanderlinden led the Westerners in scoring with 11 and eight points, respectively. The team’s post players, Brooke Koele and Natalie Nielsen were held to a combined seven points as neither one had more than one basket in a half.

“They didn’t score a lot of points,” Johnson said. “They’ve got to take it to the basket when they have the chance. They’ve got to ask for the ball more and want the ball more.”

On the other side, MMCRU’s Ellie Hilbrands capitalized on a down night for the A-W bigs as she led all scorers with 18 points which included eight from the free-throw line.

“Their biggest scorers are the ones down low so that’s what we wanted to shut down,” Letsche said. “Ellie took advantage. I think she figured it out and she kept dominating.”

The win is the first for MMCRU against Akron-Westfield. The Westerners had prevailed in a pair of close meetings last season when they won by four points and one point over the Royals.

MMCRU (2-0) will host Gehlen Catholic on Friday, November 30.

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A-W: (Individual) Points- Colt 11, Vanderlinden 8, Knapp 6, Henrich 6, Koele 5, Van Eldik 5, Harris 3, Nielsen 2, Kenny 1; Rebounds- Koele 9, Colt 5, Kenny 4, Knapp 4; Assists- Kenny 3, Colt 2, Vanderlinden 2, Henrich 2; Steals- Vanderlinden 3, Henrich 3; Blocks- Koele 2; (Team) FG 16=37, 3ptFG 2-9, FT 13-19, OFF-DEF REB 7-20—27, AST 10, STL 11, BLK 2.

MMCRU: Points- Hilbrands 18, Harpenau 15, Treinen 7, Bork 7, Dreckman 6, Reuter 3, Olson 3, Ames 2.