Royals Celebrate Perfect 20 Regular Season
MARCUS - “We are undefeated and conference champions,” exclaimed a jubilant MMCRU head girls’ basketball coach Gillian Letsche here Tuesday following her team’s 43-40 win over a tough and determined South O’Brien cage club.
The last time a team from this school went unbeaten in regular season play was in 1986 as the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Eagles of coach Jerry Martin, some 34 years ago. Wow!
So this was certainly special celebration for the Royals who now rock a 20-0 mark heading into tournament play on Tuesday here.
Nothing good comes easy. And the win to ge a coveted No. 20 proved to be a battle. South O’Brien, a team ironically coached by former Marcus basketball standout Erica Dreckman, put up a fight until the bitter end.
“It was a real battle all the way,” said Letsche. “SOS rallied back in the third quarter, but we were able to get it done in the final period.”
The host Royals earned a 9-6 first period lead and managed a narrow and low scoring 20-14 halftime advantage. With just 4:30 left in the third quarter, MMCRU was looking comfortable with a 26-19 lead. Then the Wolverine gals made a run.
In the final four minutes of the third quarter, SOS came on strong and finished with a 14-8 third quarter advantage to tie the game at 28-28 with one quarter to play.
“They were keying on Ellie (Hilbrands), so we brought her out and put Jaylen Bork inside. That opened things up for us in the fourth,” said Letsche. “I’m so proud of Faith Olson, our senior leader. She has been a big part of leading this team to a perfect regular season,” added Letsche.
In the crucial final eight minutes, it was MMCRU gals prevailing with a 15-12 advantage and the three-point win.
SOS’s Dreckman doesn’t like to lose, but was quick to credit her team’s defensive effort. “Defensively, the girls played very well. We were able to key on their main players and hold them to 43 points,” she said. “Offensively, at times, we moved the ball around well and took good shots. Going into the tournament, I would like to see our turnovers decrease,” she added.
SOS, 12-9, will play in Class 2A district tournament play at Central Lyon on Tuesday against host Central Lyon (14-4).
MMCRU got 16 points from Taylor Harpenau and nine each from Olson, Bork and Hilbrands to account for the Royals scoring. Senior Taryn Hintz tallied 20 for SOS to lead all scorers.
The Royals now advance to the tourney here Tuesday in Class 1A with a first round bye, awaiting the winner between GTRA (7-14) and West Bend-Mallard (5-14).
in the boys’ part of this War Eagle coed doubleheader, South O’Brien’s Wolverines improved to 17-3 with a 89-32 victory over the host Royals.
SOS showed strong scoring balance led by Jackson Louscher’s 19, Alex Prestos with 14, Zeke Lundquist 12 and Caden Hale with 11. The Wolverines were 34 of 60 from the field and only 4 of 17 from three.
The young Royals were led by freshman Kamden Steffen with nine points, while frosh KC Nicks added eight and junior Cade Pepper chipped in light points. The Royals are now 3-17 and play at Kingsley-Pierson tonight to finalize regular season play.
“A good, solid performance on both ends of the court,” said Kiley Yates, SOS head boys’ coach. “Giving up 32 points and challenging their shooters all night was a good effort, and we shot over 50 percent from the field.”
SOS finished in third place in the War Eagle Conference behind state ranked West Sioux and Remsen St. Mary’s. SOS is ranked fourth in Class 1A, West Sioux is fourth in 2A and St. Mary’s is seventh in 1A.
SOS will play at Gehlen tonight to cap regular season action.