No. 4 Remsen St. Mary’s girls secure victory over South O’Brien
REMSEN — Whitney Jensen was asked what she looks for in a steal and what she sees on the basketball court after doing so.
“We look to see if there is someone up-court, or we just take it,” said the 5-foot-10 Remsen St. Mary’s junior, who entered Tuesday night’s game at the Jerry and Marlene Harpenau Family Gym leading the state’s fourth-ranked Class 1A team with 44 points and 15 steals. “We look for the open girl or we draw it out and we look for a play. It depends what the defense brings.”
Jensen continued her early trend Tuesday night, leading the Hawks with 15 points and six steals during a 63-41 War Eagle Conference victory over South O’Brien. Remsen St. Mary’s (4-0, 1-0 WEC) scored 21 points off turnovers created by Jensen and her teammates.
Coach Scott Willman’s squad set the tone for the decisive victory by scoring 13 points off six turnovers while rolling to a 23-7 advantage. Jensen had two steals in the game’s first eight minutes, the first a half-court takeaway which led to an inside basket for Claire Schroeder (14 points). Jensen then had a steal/layup combination good for a 15-3 lead at the 2:55 mark.
Carmindee Ricke (8 points), who entered her junior year with a whopping 246 steals, had a steal which led to a Halle Galles (7 points) layup. Jensen hit a layup after a Galles steal while Mya Bunkers (8 points) also had a steal/layup combo.
“When we did full court press early, we were able to get turnovers and create,” said Willman. “We enjoy that. The girls take care of each other. They work well together and they come through.”
The Hawks never lost that double-digit advantage, but Willman wasn’t always happy with the defense. His team switched to a half-court zone in the second half and were unable to convert some of the turnovers they forced into baskets. Plus, Taja Conley, a 5-9 South O’Brien senior guard, erupted for a game-high 19 points for a team that had fallen 55-15 to West Sioux and 59-19 to Alta-Aurelia before facing the Hawks. She finished with five 3-pointers and her twin sister Takara swished a shot 15 feet beyond mid-court at the buzzer that ended the third quarter.
“When we took the press off and went with half-court, which is typically our bread and butter, we didn’t have the effort we needed on it,” said Willman. “We didn’t identify (Taja Conley) as much as we should have.”
“We are keeping our expectations high,” he added. “I know we did a lot of things well, but there are things we needed to work on. We have to make sure as we face teams we have an advantage on, we have to stay focused.”