The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont girls basketball team shined offensively in its 77-57 win over Cardinal in the first round of the Class 2A, Region 6 tournament Saturday.
The Rockets did nearly everything right on offense: They made smart passes, finished shots inside the paint, passed the ball to players where they were in a position to score, pumped in jumper after jumper and executed their offense with an intensity of competence that at times hinted at perfection.
“I thought our half-court execution was probably the best it’s been all year,” Rocket coach Tony Fenton said.
Tasha Alexander and the Jarrah Jensen were at the epicenter of most of E-B-F’s offensive exploits. Alexander scored a game-high 26 points and Jensen posted 21 and hauled in a team-high 15 rebounds. In addition, Jensen and Alexander combined to hit six 3-pointers — they hit three each. Alexander also came up with a team-high six steals and paced the Rockets with six assists.
Although Jensen was at the vanguard of E-B-F’s rebounding efforts, the entire Rocket team relentlessly crashed the boards all night long. This not only forced the Comets into several one-shot possessions, it also led to a lot of second-chance buckets on the offensive end of the floor.
“We’re not very big and our girls do good job hitting the boards and screening out and that’s a tribute to them,” Fenton said. “They work hard on the defensive end and work hard to get offensive rebounds.”
Cardinal coach Aaron Dose acknowledged the Rockets tenaciousness rebounding style.
“[T]hey are very, very physical,” Dose said, “they definitely know how to go to the offensive boards.”
The Comets got monster games out of Lindsay Moore and Delaney Ridgeway in defeat. In a herculean effort, Moore poured in a team-high 25 points.
Ridgeway, who is only a freshman, posted 17 points while playing with a level of poise usually reserved for juniors and seniors.
The game stayed tight in the first quarter. Jensen buried a 3-pointer from the right baseline that gave E-B-F an early 7-4 lead. Moore answered with a fastbreak layup and a jumper inside the lane. In the quarter’s final seconds, Moore, who did an superb job of navigating through the holes and gaps in the Eagles offense in the first quarter; slashed into the lane and got a friendly roll on a drive that left the game tied at 14 going into the second quarter.
“She loves the big game, the big moments,” Dose said about Moore.
Tasha Alexander took the game over in the second half, and in doing so she ignited the Rockets’ offense. She buried a number of shots in from in a matter of minutes to help her team take firm control of the game. As Alexander was pouring in the points, E-B-F’s defensive pressure was forcing Cardinal to turn the ball over. The Comets’ turnover troubles were compounded by a couple of unforced errors. By halftime, the Rockets had built a 35-22 lead.
“I think we finally realized this could be our last game and we really decided to step it up,” Alexander said.
The Rockets continued to grow their lead in the third. A Jensen 3-pointer upped E-B-F’s lead to 45-26 with four minutes left in the quarter. Moore, however, did what she could to keep her team in it. With less than two minutes to go in the third, she picked off a pass and sped down court for a layup that narrowed the gap to 49-36. But right when the Comets seemed to be on the verge of a comeback, Jensen drilled a momentum-killing 3-pointer. Moments later, Alexander buried a 3-pointer of her own and E-B-F’s. By the end of the third, The Rockets’ lead had widened to 57-41.
Moore, Ridgeway and company continued to gamely battle, but E-B-F’s hot shooting was too much to overcome. And Jensen and Alexander who were far from the only ones knocking down shots, as everybody on the Rockets was maximizing their scoring opportunities. E-B-F connected on 33 of 64 shots.
“I think that was one of our best team games,” Alexander said. “We did a really great job of using each other tonight. I Think it’s the best we’ve done all season.”
South Central co-champ E-B-F (16-7, 8-2) plays 13th-ranked South Iowa Cedar League kingpin North Mahaska (20-1, 19-1) Tuesday at New Sharon in the regional quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Cardinal (8-14, 8-10) will regroup and get ready for next season.
“We know where we need to go as a program,” Dose said. “Obviously, Eddyvile hit some key shots. It wasn’t us not getting there, we were getting out to shooters and they were hitting contested shots.”
E-B-F 77, Cardinal 57
Card 14 8 19 16 — 57
Eddy 14 21 22 20 — 77
Cardinal (57) — Danae Moses 3, Lindsay Moore 25, Delaney Ridgeway 17, Jessie McElderry 4, Schylar Conger 2, Mattie Kildow 3, Lexi Fullencamp 2, Morgan Honomichl 1. Totals 19-52 FG 16-21 FT 57.
3-point goals — 3-10 (Moore 1, Moses 1, Kildow 1). Total fouls — 13.
E-B-F (77) — Tasha Alexander 26, Jarrah Jensen 21, MaKenzie Jensen 10, Shunyl Busch 7, Emma Tanner 7, Karlie Taylor 4, Paige Reck 2. Totals 33-64 FG 5-12 FT 77.
3-point goals — 6-15 (Alexander 3, J. Jensen 3). Rebounds — 35 (J. Jensen 15). Assists — 25 (Alexander 6). Steals — 24 (Alexander 6). Blocks — 3 (M. Jensen, Busch 1, Taylor 1). Total fouls — 18.