February 21, 2024

DeVault, Paup helping Simpson women

Freshman Doryn Paup of Creston (24) and sophomore Maddax DeVault of Nodaway Valley (10) are on the court together during Wednesday's conference victory over Coe College. Both are averaging about 10 minutes a game for the Storm.

INDIANOLA — If the Simpson College women’s basketball team is going to challenge for the program’s 14th conference championship under veteran coach Brian Niemuth, it will come with contributions of two former high school stars from Adair and Union counties.

Also a part of the mix is an assistant coach from Creston who was an All-American on the 2021-22 team garnering one of those titles and an NCAA tournament appearance.

Jenna Taylor, twice named the American Rivers Conference Most Valuable Player and an Academic All-American as well at Simpson, is an accountant by day at Ernst & Young in Des Moines while also serving as an assistant for her former head coach, Brian Niemuth.

“He asked me ... well, told me a little bit ... to be a coach when I was done playing and I couldn’t pass it up,” said Taylor, joined by former teammates Claire Johnson-Urias and Cameron Kincaid on the Simpson staff. “I knew I was going to miss the game. This is perfect for me.”

DeVault brings speed

While neither is a starter, sophomore guard Maddax DeVault of Nodaway Valley and freshman power forward Doryn Paup of Creston are key players off the bench for Niemuth.

DeVault frequently rotates in for starting second guard Haley Rasmussen of Atlantic, who was named Simpson Athlete of the Week recently for her strong start to the season. DeVault is averaging 3.0 points and 1.0 steal per game, appearing in nine minutes per game.

In Wednesday’s 79-68 win over Coe, DeVault played 13 minutes in contributing eight points, four assists and one steal. She made 2-of-3 attempts from 3-point range. (One of the officials for Wednesday’s home game was Nodaway Valley High School Principal Gerry Miller.)

DeVault also played five minutes in Saturday’s 78-63 loss to the University of Dubuque as the Storm fell to 2-1 in league play and 4-4 overall.

“My role is to just go out and play hard, especially defensively in the press,” DeVault said. “I try to play really intense defense and shoot when I’m open.”

Simpson was 16-11 and third in the American Rivers Conference last year when DeVault made her debut as a varsity reserve for Simpson. She was coming off an all-state career and state tournament appearance for Nodaway Valley, and made the most of her brief appearances on the court for Simpson as a freshman.

“My first year was definitely adjusting to not being one of the main scorers,” DeVault said, “knowing that everyone on the court that you’re playing with can score. Adjusting to the speed of the game in college is a whole other level up. The people you are playing against are at the same level, so you really have to rise and adjust to that.”

Paup makes transition

Paup, likewise, is getting about 10 minutes of playing time per game as a freshman for Simpson after her all-state career as a top scorer and rebounder at Creston. She averaged 21.7 points a game as a high school senior.

This year, Paup is a reserve power forward averaging 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds. She had four points and two rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Coe, and was second on the team Saturday with five rebounds while also scoring two points in the loss to Dubuque.

When starters Cassie Nash and Elle Street were still busy as members of Simpson’s NCAA tournament women’s soccer team, Paup was higher on the depth chart and started the Nov. 14 win over Faith Baptist College. She’s still one of the front court’s top reserves in the varsity rotation.

“I’m occasionally at the high post like I was in high school a lot,” Paup said, “but also in the short corner and cutting through. When I first got here I wasn’t as confident against the bigger girls but now I’m getting more confidence posting up. I’m working on my outside shot. On defense we’ve been playing more man-to-man than we did in high school so I’m learning how to move my feet and when to go under or over the screens. Sometimes I’m on a shooter and have to play them closer.”

Taylor played Paup’s position in college and has been a mentor in preparing her for the collegiate game.

“I think Doryn has done really well. The transition from high school to college is tough,” Taylor said. “Her back to the basket moves are really good and she’s working on stretching out her shooting range a little bit. We’re getting her used to the physicality of our league. Coach (Niemuth) really likes her. He has talked about moving her to the five (position) a little bit, too.”

Both DeVault and Paup said they were attracted to Simpson’s fast-paced style under Niemuth, who uses a deep rotation to press and emphasize the fast break. Simpson led the ARC in offense a year ago at 73.9 points per game and was second in 3-pointers per game (8.0).

Niemuth says DeVault and Paup are valuable members of this year’s team.

“We’re thrilled to have both Maddax and Doryn in our program,” he said. “Being a sophomore and freshman, they’re doing a lot of learning but they work hard and are contributing. Maddax has come a long way since her freshman year and Doryn is learning how to play defense in our system while adding some scoring off the bench. They both have a bright future at Simpson.”

Conference race

Simpson was picked third in the ARC preseason poll behind nationally-ranked Wartburg and Loras. Wartburg (7-0, 3-0 conference) hosts Simpson on Saturday. It’s one of several key matchups in the league championship race.

“I think the conference championship is definitely attainable,” DeVault said. “Every conference game we have to go into with the mindset that it’s going to be a battle and we can win. That’s our goal.”

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.