After being left with the bitter taste of defeat too many times to recount last season (19, if you insist) the Iola High Fillies, nevertheless, set out with some lofty goals for the 2013-14 campaign.
Foremost among them was to win the Pioneer League championship.
The Fillies secured the league title outright Tuesday evening by pulling away in the second half of a 46-30 win over visiting Anderson County.
Head coach Becky Carlson noted most of Iola’s key performers this year were also on last season’s team.
“The key was how much the girls started believing in themselves,” she said.
Having a swarming defense, unselfish offense and improved ball handling didn’t hurt.
“What a team effort,” Carlson said. “Our shooting, passing and defense were very good. For us to only have 10 turnovers tonight was huge.”
Iola zipped to a 12-3 lead thanks to a pair of layups by Emma Piazza to start the game, a Mikaela Platt jumper and a pair of inside buckets by Emery Driskel.
The Bulldogs, behind the shooting of sophomore Paige Scheckel, responded, but could never get closer than four points the rest of the game.
Maci Rockers’ basket sliced Iola’s lead to 12-8 before Jo Lohman hit a jumper and converted a steal into a pair of free throws. Platt’s 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes left in the half pushed the Fillies up, 19-8.
Scheckel erupted for eight second-quarter points, including back-to-back 3-pointers as the Lady Bulldogs cut Iola’s lead to 23-16 at halftime.
The Bulldogs stayed within shouting distance through the third quarter. Jami Sutton’s free throws with 33 seconds left in the period had the score at 28-24 in Iola’s favor. But Lohman’s offensive rebound and subsequent free throws pushed the lead back to six to end the period. Sydney Wade’s steal and layup early in the fourth quarter extended Iola’s cushion to 32-24. Lohman was next with a basket to put the lead in double digits.
The Fillies hit 7 of 8 free throws over the last 3:38 to cement the victory.
“A lot of the difference from last year is confidence,” said Hannah Endicott, the only senior on Iola’s roster. “Playing together last year helped us become the team we are now.”
“It’s a testament to how hard these girls have worked to see them come as far as they have,” the head coach said. “Hannah has been a great leader. She’s the level-headed one who holds us together.”
The Fillies have one more regular season contest — Thursday’s makeup game at home against Wellsville — before setting their sights on the Class 4A, Division II Substate Tournament next Thursday through Saturday in Garnett.
Endicott, who was honored both before and after the game as part of Senior Night festivities, said Iola hasn’t yet even broached the topic of the postseason.
“The first thing we have to worry about is Wellsville,” she said. “We’re just keeping our focus on one game at a time.”
Still, Endicott is confident the team can still improve.
“That’s our strength — everything,” she said. “Our defense is what we’re known for, but our offense keeps getting better.”
They can’t get much better at spreading the wealth. Eight of the 10 Fillies who saw action scored, with nobody reaching double figures.
Driskel and Lohman scored eight each to lead the way.
Scheckle paced Anderson County with 13.
Anderson County came out on top, 29-22, in the junior varsity contest. Olivia Bannister and Toni Macha shared high scoring honors for the Fillies JV with six each. Cassie Delich scored three, while Riley Murry, Della Lohman and Taelyn Sutterby had two apiece. Micaiah Larney scored one.
Iola also came up short in the C team contest in overtime, losing 24-18.
Jadyn Sigg led the way for Iola with eight points. Riley Murry had four, Della Lohman three and Alexis Heslop one.
Anderson Co. (6-10-8-6—30)
Anderson Co. (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Rockers 4-0-3-8, Porter 1-0-2-2, Mad. Ratliff 0-0-1-0, McGhee 0-0-2-0, McCullough 0-2-1-2, May. Ratliff 0-0-2-0, Lutz 0-0-1-0, Scheckel 3/2-1-2-13, Kueser 1-1-1-3, Sutton 0-2-0-2. TOTALS: 9/2-6-15-30.
IOLA (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Wade 1-2-2-4, Long 0/1-1-0-4, Moore 0-2-0-2, Piazza 2-0-1-4, Lohman 2-4-0-8, Endicott 2-0-1-4, Haar 2-1-3-5, Platt 1/1-0-1-5, Driskel 4-0-2-8, Macha 0-2-0-2. TOTALS: 14/2-12-10-46.
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