No. 2 Trojan girls rally past Janesville, two wins from title


DES MOINES - Turkey Valley senior Shelby Reicks and her Trojan teammates were not to be denied a win Monday.
Playing with an injured ankle, Shelby Reicks hit the game-winning layup with 29 seconds left and added one free throw with three seconds remaining to help the No. 2 Turkey Valley girls’ basketball team rally past No. 9 Janesville, 60-58, Monday in the first round of the Class 1A State Tournament.
The No. 2 Trojans (22-2) will advance to play No. 3 Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton (24-1) in the Class 1A semifinals at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, March 2. The semifinal winner will play either Springville (23-2) or Kingsley-Pierson (24-1) in the championship game at 6 p.m. March 3.
Monday’s contest was a close back-and-forth affair through most of the first half. The Wildcats held a slim 13-12 edge after one period before the Trojans went on an 8-4 run late in the second period to take a 29-22 halftime lead.
However, Janesville came out on fire to start the third quarter as the Wildcats went on a 20-6 run to grab a 42-35 lead heading into the fourth. 
In the final period, Janesville pushed ahead 50-41 with 5:29 remaining, but Turkey Valley refused to give in. A layup by Reicks at the 2:13 mark cut the Wildcats’ lead to 54-50, but two Janesville buckets gave them a 58-52 edge with 1:33 left.
Down but not out, the Trojans closed the game strong with an 8-0 run to earn the win. Although Reicks briefly went to the sidelines after turning her ankle with 1:52 left in the fourth, she returned soon afterwards to hit the game-winning shot.
Reicks said the Trojans’ never-say-die attitude was a big factor in the win.
“We knew that we needed to push hard (late in the game) and keep going because we couldn’t afford to let up at all,” Reicks said. “Both of my ankles hurt, but getting the win heals the pain.
“It was determination that helped me the last two minutes of the game. I knew that when the ball was in my hands, I wanted to get some points on the board. I wasn’t panicked. I knew we could do it, and I kept telling the team we could finish hard, and we did.
“Our experience from playing last year at State definitely helped us. I think Janesville might have been a little more nervous. Our fans also helped a lot. They are unbelievable. Having them as our support system is the best,” Reicks said.
TV Head Co-Coach Carla Nymeyer was excited to see the Trojans battle back after falling behind by nine points with less than six minutes left.
“Janesville is a team that improved a lot during the season, and they played a really good game against us,” Nymeyer said. “Our girls did a good job of keying on Janesville’s two best players (Tori Hazard and Briana Baker-Bruce), and we did a good job of staying between them and the basket.
“Before we left the locker room after the game, we told the girls that this is the point where we finished the game, and this is where we want to start again (in the semifinals). We want to keep our momentum going and not go backwards.
“Our senior leadership has been very strong. Morgen Kuennen, Sadie Nymeyer and Shelby Reicks are vocal leaders on the court, and they lead by example. Our younger kids learn a lot from them,” the coach said.
Coach Nymeyer said the seniors came through in the clutch.
“Our girls stepped up big,” Nymeyer said. “I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I’m very pleased that it did. Fortunately, we were able to get some big rebounds and finish at the basket.
“We didn’t panic, but that’s how our seniors play. They’ve played a lot of basketball, including in the off-season. They know how to respond and not get too worked up. Our seniors know how to take control in pressure situations. Shelby did a good job of rounding the girls up in the huddle and making sure everyone was on the same page,” Nymeyer said.
The coach noted she didn’t expect Shelby Reicks to come back so quickly after turning her ankle with under two minutes left. But she’s glad Shelby did come back.
“Once Shelby came off the court (with 1:52 left), I wasn’t expecting her to come back, but (the officials) then asked if she wanted to go back in, and I said, ‘Yeah, she can go back in.’ We just had to wait for a free throw shot, and Shelby went back in.
“That’s Shelby. If I would have told her no, she still would have jumped over there and went in. The game-winning shot wasn’t planned out for Shelby, but that’s just Shelby doing what she does best. She has a lot of self-determination,” Nymeyer said.
The coach also praised Turkey Valley’s defense in the final period.
“In the fourth quarter, we did a better job of focusing, staying down and moving our feet. We didn’t do a good job of that in the third quarter, but it was good to see the girls finally make that adjustment. We know we have to be ready to go on defense. It was tough to defend and contain  (Janesville’s) Tori Hazard,” the coach said.
TV senior Sadie Nymeyer agreed that defense was a big key to the win.
“The coaches preach to us about getting defensive stops,” Sadie Nymeyer said. “We had some girls step up and score, which was nice. There was some pressure on us, but our attitude was, ‘Let’s work as a team and get this done,’” Nymeyer said.
The fans also assisted the team, according to Nymeyer.
“Our fans are great. They were great for us last year, and they are just as great this year. It’s comforting to have that much support. It kind of feels like we have an extra player out there with our fans. Whenever there is a doubt in your mind, it’s great to have the fans cheering you on,” Nymeyer said.
TV statistics
Shelby Reicks led the Trojans with 21 points, had eight assists and four rebounds. Morgen Kuennen tallied 13 points, two steals and five rebounds. 
Sadie Nymeyer had 12 points, including two three-pointers, and four rebounds. Elli Winter had 10 points, six rebounds and four steals. Kayla Gebel had two points, three steals and seven rebounds. Katlyn Baumler had two points.

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