COLO — Making the hour drive and facing what seemed to be the entire town of Colo in the stands, the Lynnville-Sully girls basketball team faced a series of challenges Tuesday night.
The Hawks started slow and somewhat recovered in the second half, but couldn't get over the hump in a 46-35 season-ending loss in the second round of Class 1A regional play to the host Royals.
"We had some shots and looks at the basket that we just couldn't knock down," L-S coach Jerry Hulsing said. "We were trying to rush things just a bit on offense, so we weren't keeping tracking of the basketball. When we were aggressive, we made things happen."
Both teams came out of the gate hitting shots, as L-S sophomore Lyndsay Terpstra connected on a 3-pointer and coast-to-coast layup to keep pace with Colo-NESCO junior Madison Farren. The Hawks were widely shut down besides a jumper by junior Cassie Cullen at the buzzer, however, and trailed 12-8 after the first.
The Royals kept their foot on the gas in the second, deploying some full-court pressure that often stopped the Hawks before they even crossed half court. A three-point play by junior Rachel Van Wyk eventually broke up a Royal run early in the quarter, but the Hawk offense was otherwise held in check for the rest of the quarter. Although Colo-NESCO took just a 10-point lead into halftime, the momentum clearly belonged to the home team.
“I think it got us playing a bit faster than we wanted to,” Hulsing said of the Royals’ pressure. “It kind of got the motor running and we never slowed down, even when we wanted to get into a set.”
That pressure continued to give the Hawks fits in the third as they were held scoreless until Van Wyk hit a pair of free throws at the 2:56 mark. Lynnville-Sully’s defense was holding tight, however, as it had surrendered only four points at the time. After taking a hard foul and leaving the game for a few minutes, sophomore Lysandra James returned and scored a few late points for the Hawks in the quarter. But going into the final frame, the Royals led by 13.
“We told them to just keep fighting and digging down deep because good things were going to happen if they played hard,” Hulsing said. “The kids really battled and showed a lot of compsure and mental toughness. It was a physical, not really pretty ballgame, but the kids really hung in there.”
James proved the hard foul wasn’t affecting her in the fourth as she pulled down multiple offensive rebounds to keep Hawk possessions alive. Three early points from Cullen and four more between James and Van Wyk pulled the Hawks to within eight points with three minutes to go in the game, but that would be the end of the team’s push for the night.
“Earlier in the game we’d get a body in the paint and they wouldn’t call a foul,” Hulsing said. “But we still continued to go strong to the hole and got some points. We had a couple turnovers here and there at the end, and unfortunately if we just knocked down a few more, who knows what could’ve happened.”
The Royals regained their earlier skill of stealing the ball left and right, and eventually salted the game away at the free-throw line to end the Hawks’ season.
Despite losing major contributors to graduation, this year’s Hawk squad still managed double-digit wins and a first-round regional victory. The young team, featuring no seniors and just five juniors, certainly pulled itself together down the stretch, which included dealing then-undefeated North Mahaska its first loss of the season.
“I think we grew a lot as a team in the last three week. This was one of those years where there was a lot of question marks of injuries and kids being sick,” Hulsing said. “Probably in the 22 years I’ve been doing this, that’s the most I’ve seen. But the kids really stepped up and I’m really proud of the effort.”
Colo-NESCO 46, Lynnville-Sully 35
L — 8 9 7 11 — 35
C — 12 15 10 9 — 46
L — Van Wyk 9, James 7, Terpstra 7, Cullen 6, Rasmusson 3, Vos 3
C — Farren 18, Dean 8, Stoeffler 6, Anthony 5, Reise 5, Eley 4