GREENFIELD — The Nodaway Valley girls basketball team picked up a key early season Pride of Iowa Conference win here Tuesday, holding off Mount Ayr in a 49-40 win.
“A win over Mount Ayr any time is a big deal,” Nodaway Valley head coach Tom Thompson said. “Always excited about that. This conference is wide open this year. Any step you get is going to be an advantage down the way.”
The Wolverines started the game on a 9-0 run, as senior Emily Huntington bookended the run with a 3-pointer and a basket off a cut through the lane.
Mount Ayr slowly chipped away at the lead, however, eventually closing it to 25-22 at halftime.
“We got down in a hole 9-0 and we started out so scared,” Mount Ayr head coach Thad Streit said. “We just need to take it to people and play loose, play to win.”
The two teams went back and forth in the second half, trading blow for blow.
Nodaway Valley freshman Paige McElfish got an easy bucket off an inbound pass and then Ashton Johnson found Macy Larsen cutting through the lane on an inbound pass at the other end to make the score 33-30.
But McElfish ended the third quarter with a steal, and after missing a layup, gathered her own rebound and finishing with the putback to send the Wolverines into the fourth quarter with a 35-30 lead.
Mount Ayr got a pair of free throws from freshman Megan Warin to start the fourth quarter and then Larsen found fellow freshman Tess Shields streaking down the middle of the court on a fast break for a layup, cutting the lead to 35-34.
Nodaway Valley’s freshman post combination answered, as Josie Clarke passed off to McElfish for a layup to put the Wolverines back in front by three.
But Brook Rychnovsky stole the ball away from Josie Carter from behind, and just as looked like Carter was about to repay the favor, Rychnovsky found Tess Shields streaking down the court again for another layup, making it 37-36.
Mount Ayr could only muster one basket in the final 4:26 of the game, however. Clarke got two inside baskets for the Wolverines and senior Christine Gross hit 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Raiderette rally.
Paige Daughton hit a tough shot inside and got the and one to cut the Wolverine lead to 45-39, giving the Raiderettes a glimmer of hope, but Gross knocked down four more free throws to put the game away.
“All the girls stepped up,” Thompson said. “Christine’s free throws at the end, but turnovers have been a big problem of ours, and we only turned the ball over 15 times tonight, so we really cut that down. We were patient with the basketball, and that was a big key.”
McElfish and Clarke led the Wolverines, both scoring 12 points. McElfish grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and Clarke finished with eight. McElfish also finished with five steals, while Clarke blocked five shots.
Freshman Kelcie Shields led Mount Ayr with 13 points, while Tess Shields added nine.
“Those turnovers killed us,” Streit said about the fourth quarter. “We cut it to one there late, we just couldn’t get over that hump. We had some shots down low and we just could not get one that we needed.”
Nodaway Valley improved to 4-2 overall and 4-0 in Pride of Iowa Conference play. Mount Ayr dropped to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the POI.
The Wolverines host Martensdale-St. Marys in another key conference matchup on Friday. The Blue Devils will enter with a 3-1 conference mark after losing to Central Decatur on Tuesday. Mount Ayr travels to Interstate 35, which is 4-0 in conference play.
MOUNT AYR (40) — Kelcie Shields 5 3-6 13, Tess Shields 3 3-4 9, Megan Warin 2 2-2 7, Paige Daughton 3 1-1 7, Macy Larsen 1 2-2 4. Totals — 14 11-15 40. 3-point goals — 1 (Warin 1). Team fouls — 18. Fouled out — Brook Rychnovsky.
NODAWAY VALLEY (49) — Paige McElfish 6 0-1 12, Josie Clarke 6 0-7 12, Emily Huntington 4 0-0 9, Christine Gross 0 8-10 8, Jessica Nelson 2 0-0 5, Josie Carter 1 0-0 3. Totals — 19 8-18 49. FG shooting — 19-49 (38 percent). 3-point goals — 3-6 (Huntington 1, Carter 1, Nelson 1). Rebounds — 23 (McElfish 9, Clarke 8, Gross 3, Huntington 2). Assists — 15 (Carter 5, Huntington 3, Gross 2, McElfish 2, Clarke 2). Steals — 17 (McElfish 5, Carter 4, Gross 3, Clarke 3). Blocked shots — 5 (Clarke 5). Turnovers — 15. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — McElfish.
MA — 6 22 30 40
Creston — 11 25 35 49