WINTERSET — The Creston girls basketball team faced a tough challenge here Monday night, playing without one of its top players while taking on a state qualifier from a year ago.
Winterset handed the Panthers their first loss of the season with a 62-39 victory, as the Panthers are still without junior Natalie Mostek, who suffered a concussion during a preseason scrimmage.
Creston also had to try to keep Mariah Criswell in check, who had scored 25 points in the Huskies’ season-opening win against Interstate 35. Criswell netted 27 points against the Panthers Monday on 10-of-17 shooting, including four made 3-pointers.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on their best player, Criswell,” Creston head coach Larry McNutt said. “She still probably had close to 30 points, but I really thought we did a pretty good job on her. When one player gets 30, the rest don’t have to get very many.”
Even with Criswell’s strong shooting night, and Creston shooting just 8-of-16 from the free throw line in the first half, the Panthers found themselves down just 10 at halftime, 34-24.
“We were in the game,” McNutt said. “If we make some of those missed free throws and take away some of those turnovers, it’s a tight game at halftime.”
But, Winterset came out strong in the second half, scoring the first few baskets of the half to extend the lead. The Huskies eventually extended the lead to 20 points before Creston began to chip away at the lead.
The Panthers cut the lead back to 13 points with about 4:30 remaining in the game, but the deficit was too much to overcome and Winterset went on another run to close out the 62-39 victory.
“Our kids didn’t quit,” McNutt said. “We just got in too big of a hole to get back into it. We did a lot of good things tonight. We just have to be more consistent at the free throw line and take care of the ball.”
Sophomore Jenna Taylor led the Panthers with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. She also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
McNutt said with Criswell playing as dominant as she did, it forced the Panthers to play defense differently than they normally would have, but the game still gave him an idea of where his team is at right now.
“It’s hard to tell, but yeah, we competed with them at half, and if we make some free throws and don’t turn the ball over, we’re maybe leading at half,” he said. “Get everybody healthy and a little more consistent, and I think we’ll be all right.”
As for Mostek, there is still not timetable on her return. She started running today, and will take things day by day.
“We’ll see how she reacts tomorrow,” McNutt said. “If she feels all right tomorrow, then maybe we’ll do a little bit more and take it day by day.”
Creston, now 2-1 for the season, returns to action Friday at Glenwood.
WINTERSET (62) — Mariah Criswell 10 3-3 27, Sam Moss 4 2-3 11, Molly Eyerly 3 0-0 6, Carley Fulcher 2 1-2 6, Macayla Criswell 2 0-0 5, Darby Messerschmitt 1 1-2 4, Janel Henggeler 1 1-3 3.
CRESTON (39) — Jenna Taylor 9 5-8 23, Olivia Nielsen 1 3-6 5, Taylor Briley 1 1-2 3, Maria Mostek 1 0-0 3, Camryn Somers 1 0-0 2, Brenna Baker 0 2-4 2, Chelcee Downing 0 1-3 1. Totals — 13 12-23 39. FG shooting — 13-46 (28.2 percent). 3-point goals — 1-6 (Maria Mostek 1). Rebounds — 25 (Taylor 9, Somers 5, Briley 4, Downing 3). Assists — 12 (Briley 5, Downing 2, Baker 2, Nielsen 2). Steals — 4 (Somers 1, Briley 1, Taylor 1, Nielsen 1). Turnovers — 18. Team fouls — 16. Fouled out — none.
The Creston JV team fell to 0-2 for the season with a 41-38 loss at Winterset on Monday.
“The second half was much better than the first half,” Creston JV coach Mendy McCreight said. “We stepped up in the areas of rebounding and taking care of the ball. We had a close game in the second half as we were only down by two points with 33 seconds left, but were unable to finish on top.”
The Panthers shot just 8-of-22 from the free throw line, which would have made a difference in the close game.
Sadie Jones led the team with 10 points, while Taylor Briley and Caitlin McIlravy each netted eight points. Madison Callahan grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, while Briley finished with four steals.
Creston (38) — Sadie Jones 10, Taylor Briley 8, Caitlin McIlravy 8, Madison Callahan 6, Maria Mostek 4, Cammy Rutherford 2. 3-point goals — None. Free throws — 8-22. Rebounds — 21 (Callahan 7, McIlravy 5, Jones 4, Rutherford 4, Jessica Beatty 1). Steals — 10 (Briley 4, McIlravy 3, Callahan 2, Jones 1). Assists — 2 (Jones 1, Beatty 1). Team fouls — 15.
The Creston freshmen won a two-quarter game against Winterset on Monday, 13-3.
Lexie Little and Cammy Rutherford each scored four points for the Panthers, while Rachel Shepherd and Madison Callahan each pitched in two points. Cydney Seley made one free throw to finish with one point.
Creston (13) — Lexie Little 4, Cammy Rutherford 4, Rachel Shepherd 2, Madison Callahan 2, Cydney Seley 1.