NEVADA — Prairie City-Monroe’s girls basketball team took a tough loss to Heart of Iowa Conference rivals Nevada on Tuesday, Nov. 26. The Mustangs’ trip to Nevada ended in a 52-34 loss.
PCM fought toe-to-toe with the Cubs throughout the first half, only trailing 22-17 at the break, but a third-quarter run by the Cubs put PCM in a double-digit hole that they were unable to climb out of.
Trailing 39-26 going into the final period, the Mustangs needed an offensive surge and were unable to find one. The Cubs took the final quarter by a score of 13-8 en route to their first victory of the season.
Nevada’s Kati Cassabaum took advantage of the Mustangs’ lack of size, grabbing 19 total rebounds for the Cubs. She added 13 point to make it a double-double.
GAME LEADERS: Points — Abbi Gilson 9, Lexi Kain 7, Courtney Van Houweling 6, Grace Telfer 4, Rachel Stafford 3, Kayla Jennings 3, Rachel Gulling 2. Assists — Van Houweling 2, Gulling 1, Stafford 1, Gilson 1, Jennings 1. Rebounds — Van Houweling 7, Gilson 7, Kain 5, Jennings 3, Gulling 3. Steals — Van Houweling 6, Gulling 2.
Mustang boys’ basketball has been a force in the state of Iowa for the past decade, but PCM’s girls have not been able to share in that success. Coach Bret Grier hopes to see that change this year, and he is cautiously optimistic after being able to bring back three starters from a 2012 team that won 10-straight games.
Seniors Abbi Gilson and Lexi Kain, along with junior Courtney Van Houweling return to lead a crop of fresh faces filling out the remainder of PCM’s rotation. Southeast Polk transer Rachel Gulling and freshman Kayla Jennings make up the rest of the starting lineup, and with freshman Rachel Stafford and junior Grace Telfer comprising the rest of the roation, Grier is thankful to bring back starters who know what winning basketball consists of,
“When you go on a run like that and you can bring three girls back from that team, it makes a world of difference,” Grier said. “If we had no girls come back from that team, I don’t think the new girls would understand that they have to buy in. Those girls believe PCM can be a major player in Class 3A, and they’re showing the young girls how to buy in by letting them know we can compete.”
The roster is a double-edged sword. PCM is a very athletic team, as well as skilled with the ball in its backcourt’s hands, but with the team’s athleticism comes a lack of size. Grier hopes to teach his athletic bunch how to use their athleticism to offset what no coach can teach — height.
“We’re very athletic, and we should be able to push the ball on both ends of the court,” Grier said. “Van Houwelting is a great ball handler, she played a lot of point guard for us last year, and Gulling is very good too. So, it’s nice to have, in essence, two point guards in the back court. It should allow us to handle the press pretty well.”
“However, size is a problem, and rebounding will be and has been an issue. The girls need to learn to box out and use their quickness to attack the boards, so that has to be a priority,” he added.
The inexperience needs to quickly wear off if this team is going to reach the heights of which Grier thinks his girls are capable.
“We have a blend of talent. but it’s raw in terms of varsity experience,” he said. “The girls are working through figuring out where each other are going to be on the court and trusting one another, but it’s a difficult task. It’s something they haven’t learned in two weeks of practice. It takes game time, game situations, but it will sort itself out.”