No sign of Tornadoes, but threes rain down for Le Mars

Friday, February 17, 2023
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Sarah Brown shoots a 3-pointer in front of an enthusiastic Le Mars Community student section on Wednesday. Brown made four 3-pointers, part of 13 total made threes in the game for the Bulldogs as they beat Storm Lake in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal game.

LE MARS — The Le Mars Community girls basketball team has been one of the best 3-point shooting teams throughout this season. That continued on Wednesday in the team’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal game as the Bulldogs swished a season-high 13 triples in a 67-33 win over Storm Lake.

Five different players made a 3-pointer in the game as the team surpassed their previous season best total of 11 threes in a win over Western Christian.

“I think it helped we got a big crowd out to support us. That always helps,” Le Mars junior Sarah Brown said. “I think we were encouraging everyone. It didn’t matter who was scoring as long as someone was. I think we worked as a great team tonight.”

Brown was able to knock down four of the team’s 3-pointers in the game as she tied for the team lead with 15 points. Brown explained what led to her success knocking down those perimeter shots.

“We do a lot of back screens, Grace (Van Otterloo) is good at that. She allowed me to have a lot of shots,” Brown said. “Zoe, Metta, a lot of them, they make great passes right to me to be able to shoot.”

Brown didn’t score in the opening quarter, but helped spark the Le Mars offense in the second quarter. Le Mars held a 9-3 advantage after the first frame, but then scored 25 points in the second quarter to break the game open. Brown had three of her four 3-pointers come in the second quarter. The first extended the lead to 23-5 and then she went on a run of eight straight points by herself, knocking down a pair of treys before getting a layup to make it a 33-7 game near the end of the first half.

Madi Huls started the scoring with a 3-pointer, but that came nearly three minutes into the first quarter. Zoe Wittkop had two buckets, part of her eight points in the game, and Metta Skov added another basket in what was a bit of a slow start for the offense.

Still, the defense was able to hold Storm Lake without a field goal in the opening quarter, yielding just three free throws. The first basket for the Tornadoes came over 10 minutes into the game as Amy Slight was finally able to break the ice from the floor.

Le Mars Head Coach Cody Dyhrkopp said the defense played well and eventually led to the team’s scoring outburst in the second quarter.

“I think our full court man-to-man defense led to that,” Dyhrkopp said. “We were able to get some tips and turnovers in that second quarter and kind of busted it open by getting some stuff in transition. Yeah we want to finish at the rim in transition, but that was able to lead to some wide-open threes in transition, too.”

The two teams met just last week to close out the regular season. Le Mars won that game by a 54-36 score. Dyhrkopp said the main change from the previous meeting to Thursday’s contest was defensively, and then just being able to knock down more shots. The Bulldogs went 6-of-19 from 3-point range in the first win.

“Early on in our game last week, we played full court zone defense against these guys. We played our 1-2-1-1. Tonight we played our man-to-man. That was our big change from last Thursday, and we I guess made more shots than we did last week which helped,” Dyhrkopp said.

The torrential downpour of threes continued in the second half as the Bulldogs made eight after the intermission. Skov, who tied for the team lead with 15 points, opened the third quarter with one of her three triples in the contest. Huls added her second of the night, accounting for her six points in the game, in the third quarter.

Jaelyn Marienau had three 3-pointers fall in the second half as she came off the bench to be the team’s third player in double figures with 11 points. Aubree Leusink had the team’s other 3-pointer as she finished with five points.

The Bulldogs built up their lead to a running clock 35-point margin by the end of the third quarter which allowed Dyhrkopp to get some minutes for his bench players.

“Our bench gave us really good minutes tonight,” Dyhrkopp said. “We have a lot of girls that could start for us and they’ve accepted their roles individually and I appreciate that because they all come in and give us great minutes. Grace battles in the post. Payton (Wright) handles the ball and looks for a shot. Jaelyn does the same thing. They’re really valuable to us.”

Storm Lake was led by Maddy Raveling’s nine points. Avery DeHaan added eight points while Slight ended with seven. The Tornadoes end the season with a record of 8-13.

Le Mars takes a 13-9 record into Saturday’s regional semifinal game against No. 3 Bishop Heelan (20-2). The Crusaders won both regular season meetings over the Bulldogs, taking a 60-50 game on Jan. 24 and a 73-57 game on Dec. 20.

Dyhrkopp said defense is going to be key for the Bulldogs if they want to get a win over their MRAC rivals for the first time since 2017 when Le Mars won 59-56, which happened to be a regional semifinal.

“I want to see us engage defensively how we’ve been for the last couple games,” Dyhrkopp said. “We’ve really dug in defensively since that loss to Sioux City West. That’s what we need to continue to do if we want to beat Heelan on Saturday.”

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: