No. 3 Cadet girls triumph over Mount Vernon, head back to State


MANCHESTER - Maybe Des Moines should put up a new sign reading ‘Welcome back to State, Crestwood girls’ basketball team!’
For the third time in the last four years and the sixth time in school history, the No. 3 Crestwood girls’ basketball team punched its ticket to the Class 3A State Tournament with an impressive 52-36 win over No. 10 Mount Vernon Saturday in the Region Final at West Delaware. The Cadets also qualified for State in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2014 and 2015.
The Cadets (22-1) will face Cherokee (20-3) in the first round of the State Tournament Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The winner will play either Sioux Center (24-0) or PCM (20-4) March 2 at 5 p.m. in the semifinals. The title game will be March 4 at 4 p.m.
Saturday’s region final saw the Cadets take control of the game fairly quickly. After the Mustangs tied the game at two, Crestwood closed the period with a 15-4 run to take a 17-6 lead into the second. 
In the second period, Crestwood led 21-9 with 5:50 left before Mount Vernon went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 23-17 at the 2:15 mark. However, the Cadets closed the half strong with five straight points by Shannon Pisney to take a 28-17 halftime lead.
Crestwood pushed its lead to 37-23 at the end of the third, and it refused to let the Mustangs get any closer than 11 points in the final four minutes as it sailed to victory.
To say the least, Cadet junior Shannon Pisney was an unstoppable force on offense. Pisney finished with 29 points, including one three-pointer, and 17 rebounds.
“Shannon is the heart and soul of our team,” Cadet Coach Doug Sickles said. “We’re a blue-collar team, which is the kind of player Shannon is. She is willing to do the dirty work, which is what we like about our kids.
“Shannon might get the accolades with 29 points, but that is the tone all of our kids set. Tonight was Shannon’s night, but in other games, other kids have stepped up. We just expect our kids to step up, and they do that. With our team, you never know who will be the star on offense,” Sickles said.
The coach was also very pleased with how the Cadets played on defense.
“Our defense carried us again. We made some good adjustments, too. Mount Vernon’s tallest player, Kaitlyn Volesky, really hurt us in the first half in the high post. We adjusted on defense by getting more help (guarding Volesky), and we made other kids beat us, but they didn’t,” Sickles said.
After missing most of the 2015-16 season with an ACL injury, Shannon Pisney was very excited to help the Cadets return to State.
“We were a little bit nervous to start the game, but once we hit a couple shots (as a team), we were ready to roll,” Pisney said. ““My teammates did a good job of finding me for the open shot and giving me good looks at the basket. 
“I have to give a shout out to my teammates for finding me (on the court). Defense was also a big key for us. We knew we had to have help guarding Kaitlyn Volesky, and did a good job defending her,” Pisney said.
Saturday’s win was especially satisfying for Pisney considering her ACL injury cost her most of her sophomore season.
 “Last year, it really sucked sitting on the bench (because of the injury) because I wanted to be out there helping the team. It feels good to be going back to State. My hard work (recovering from the injury) paid off definitely. I think we have what we need to compete well in Des Moines, and we’ll make the community proud,” Pisney said.
Teammate Ellie Friesen noted the Cadets’ defense was a big key to the win.
“Getting some defensive stops on Mount Vernon was big for us,” Friesen said. “Offensively, we pushed the ball right away and got a lead right away, which was important because Mount Vernon got on a roll in the second quarter. We knew that we would have some offensive runs, but we expected them to do the same.
“It feels great to qualify for State. We are going to have a great opportunity to win (in Des Moines). We have a lot of great teammates, and it will be fun,” Friesen said.
Coach Sickles noted that Crestwood’s ability to jump out to a double-digit lead after one quarter was a big advantage.
“We got off to a hot start on offense and jumped on Mount Vernon right away,” Sickles said. “Getting that lead settled us down and gave us a little bit of a cushion for error. After the first quarter, it seemed like Mount Vernon was chasing us instead of us being in a panic mode and chasing them.
“We told the girls that basketball is a game of runs. You try to limit the other team’s runs, and you try to build on your runs. For the most part, we did that pretty well,” Sickles said.
The coach also praised the Cadets for limiting Volesky of Mount Vernon to only 15 points, including just seven points over the final three periods.
“Once we got back to our game plan of trying to limit the number of times Volesky touched the ball, we were more effective (on defense). We did a good job with our man-to-man defense. Kristen Elliott hit a couple threes for Mount Vernon early, but we held her in check late in the game.
“Another key for us was the fact that we didn’t let Mount Vernon’s defensive press bother us. Ellie, Brynn, Shannon and Emily really took care of the press well. We only had six turnovers during the whole game, which is great for a big game. This was one of those nights where our girls were not going to be denied. They worked hard, and they were getting to all the loose balls. The win was a collective team effort.
“Getting to State was one of our team goals. It never gets tired going to State. For a coach, you want it so bad for the kids. This is every kid’s dream to go to State. It is special to be able to get to State three of the last four years.
“I also want to really thank the fans. Our fan support has been super all year. I think we had almost three times as many fans as Mount Vernon did Saturday,” Sickles said.
The coach noted the team will be ready to take on Cherokee in the first round at State on Feb. 28.
“Cherokee scores a lot of points,” Sickles said. “They average close to 80 points per game, so we’re going to have to find a way to slow them down a little. We like to hang our hat on our defense, and we need to keep the score under the 80s,” Sickles said.
Ellie Friesen finished in double figures with 14 points, including one three-pointer, 10 rebounds and three assists. Sharon Goodman added four points, one block, one rebound and one assist. 
Emily Friesen had three points on one three-pointer, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Brynn Bodermann had two points, four rebounds and two assists.
A pep bus for Cadet students and fans will be leaving from Crestwood at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 28. The cost for one bus ticket is $15 and can be purchased at the high school district office from now until Feb. 24. Game tickets are available at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Cresco Times

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Fax: 563-547-4602

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