The Nodaway Valley girls basketball team knows that their success on the court is closely tied with their love for each other as teammates on and off the court.
The Wolverines have strung together six late-season wins in a row. Their most recent results were a 70-19 walloping of Bedford Tuesday, Jan. 24, a 80-36 victory over Southeast Warren at home Tuesday, Jan. 24 and a road win over a ranked Earlham opponent Saturday, Jan. 28, 60-41.
Since early in the season, the Nodaway Valley girls have tracked a statistic they call touches. It’s not a matter of when players touch the ball, it’s when they positively affirm each other by giving high-fives, or other encouragements. It reinforces a focus the team has put on doing the little things well.
“The thought behind it is that the more times you can make physical contact with a teammate, especially above the shoulder, it releases endorphins,” NV head coach Brian Eisbach said. “If you’ve had a bad day, you come in to practice and you need to acknowledge [your teammates]. That’s a really big life lesson that has nothing to do with basketball.”
Assistant coach Amy Sivadge said the touches the Wolverines make helps them get through stressful points in games, too.
“It keeps morale up. When things aren’t going right, you’re still having a teammate touching your hand saying ‘Hey, you’ve got this. Let’s go!’ That matters,” she said.
The Wolverines led 33-3 after the first quarter against Bedford, a run built on good defense and getting high-percentage baskets on the other end. The Wolverines led 54-9 at halftime. Junior guard Lindsey Davis scored 29 in that game and freshman guard Izzy Eisbach 18.
Davis provided a spark on defense as well, recording nine steals. That mark pushed her to break the school’s career steals record, with 292 and counting.
Against Southeast Warren, the first quarter was again marked by disruption by the Wolverines’ defensive pressure. A late second-quarter surge that included a Mylee Comstock 3-pointer and Jorja Holliday putback had the hosts up 41-20 at halftime. A 19-2 run opened the third quarter, which only widened the score. Davis scored 32, Eisbach 22 and Holliday 11 in that game.
Earlham fell victim to a 16-1 Wolverine scoring run in the second quarter Saturday, which put the Wolverines up 42-20 at halftime.
The Wolverines fought off foul trouble in the second half, leading 51-30 at the end of the third quarter. Davis put in 33 points and Eisbach 15 to pace Nodaway Valley.
Nodaway Valley, 15-4 overall and 11-0 in the Pride of Iowa Conference, was scheduled to play at home against Mount Ayr Tuesday, Jan. 31 and at Lenox Friday with the conference title still on the line.
“If Mount Ayr beats us I believe we have a three-way tie. Every game’s big, but it’s a big week,” Eisbach said. “As coaches, we’re trying to build momentum, belief and some fire so it’s like dominoes.”