April 17, 2024

Team ball shines in regional semi rout of SWV

Wolverine junior Maddie Weston (2) takes a 3-pointer from the left wing against Southwest Valley, in a regional semifinal at Nodaway Valley Friday, Feb. 16.

Not unlike a Jack-In-the-Box bursting forth, Nodaway Valley’s girls basketball squad seemingly burst the roof off their home gym Friday, Feb. 16 with a season-high scoring output and a regional semifinal win.

The Wolverines, ranked eighth in the final IGHSAU Class 2A rankings released Feb. 7, defeated Southwest Valley 93-46. It was the third time the two teams had played, and the margin of victory was the greatest for Nodaway Valley that it has been in those three matchups.

Furthermore, Nodaway Valley (20-3) exhibited great balance in the win as five girls scored in double figures for the first time this season.

“We had five girls in double figures, and Annika [Nelson] had nine. You know, it’s kind of fitting that we talk all the time about our culture, playing for each other, and getting everybody [in] to play, and everybody contributed in one way or another tonight,” Nodaway Valley head coach Brian Eisbach said. “Now we have another chance to play for a regional championship.”

NV led 25-15 after the first quarter, but settled in even more in the second, when it began on a 9-0 scoring run to pull ahead of the Timberwolves. Three-pointers, offensive rebounding and steals were all key in that stretch as Nodaway Valley turned a 27-19 lead into a 36-19 lead over the first almost 2:30 of the second quarter.

Nodaway Valley led 53-30 at halftime after it canned seven first-half 3-pointers from five different players. SWV made four first-half treys of its own.

NV junior Taylor Day (1) looks for an open teammate against Southwest Valley in a Friday, Feb. 16 regional semifinal.

“Our defense starts our offense, but in the first half, we didn’t feel like we did a very good job defensively,” Eisbach said. “We were letting them get way too many looks. They hit seven 3s tonight. That’s a concern, because the deeper you get into the postseason the more important those open shots are. We’ll have a lot of work to do.”

The Wolverines led 74-38 at the end of the third quarter as the game eventually went into continuous clock thanks to a 16-1 scoring run that started that quarter. Multiple players were able to get into the action as eight Nodaway Valley players scored.

While the seniors played their last game in their home gym and the team took a bow for the crowd after the game, juniors Maddie Weston and Liv Laughery each scored in double figures — Weston with 11 and Laughery 10. The duo combined for three shots from long distance.

“We had a lot of energy tonight, which I really think helped us hit shot after shot,” Weston said. “We knew we had to have more energy than last game. I really think we brought it tonight.”

NV senior Lindsey Davis drives the baseline to find a teammate to pass the ball out to during a regional semifinal win against Southwest Valley Feb. 16 at Greenfield.

Laughery hit a shot late that forged her into double figures.

“It was awesome to see everyone sharing the ball and everyone getting points tonight,” Laughery said. “I think we did a great job communicating on defense, getting through the rotations and talking about where we need to be. It would definitely be awesome [to make it to state]. We’ve been working for it and it would be an awesome opportunity.”

Senior guard Lindsey Davis scored 23 points, sophomore Izzy Eisbach 21 and senior post Jorja Holliday 11.

The Wolverines were not shy that they felt better about their performance against Southwest Valley than they did against Interstate 35 four nights earlier. Nodaway Valley beat the Roadrunners 65-46 to make it to Friday’s game.

In that win, Davis scored 29 points and Eisbach 21. Holliday added nine.

Nelson had seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Holliday had five rebounds and four steals.

In the game, the Roadrunners never really went away for the Wolverines.

With the regional semifinal win, the Wolverines turn their attention to ninth-ranked Grundy Center (20-2), who beat South Hamilton 38-29 Friday at home on the other side of the bracket. The regional final will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Ballard High School (Huxley), with the winner advancing to the state tournament.

The Spartans are led by seniors Carlie Willis (12.5 points per game) and Ellery Luhring (10.3 ppg). They’re a 6-foot and 5-foot-10 combo that the Wolverines know will be hard to handle. As a team, Grundy Center comes in averaging a 48.5 to 35.2 scoring margin, where the Wolverines are winning by an average score of 68.0 to 42.6.

This year’s Nodaway Valley seniors, who have shattered both team and individual records all season, aren’t ready for their dream season to be finished.

“This is really rewarding,” said senior post Megan McCall, who was asked about the team winning their last home game and the feeling of getting to play more. “It’s rewarding to know we’ve done everything we can to get this far, and we hope we keep going further.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.