BAXTER — Baxter girls’ basketball coach Eric Padget has been telling his players to shoot the ball when they are open.
Sophomore Holly Jessen took that to heart on Feb. 1 during a non-conference game against Davis County. And most of the shots she took went in.
Jessen hit half of her shots from the floor and buried nine free throws during a career-high 22-point performance, and Jessen led the way in a 64-38 rout of the Mustangs.
“My teammates were giving me good passes, and I was able to get open,” Jessen said. “When I was open, I shot it. They went in tonight.”
The Bolts seem to be peaking at the right time of the season.
They have won four of their last five games to improve to 5-15. The first few minutes against Davis County was the difference on Feb. 1.
Baxter scored the game’s first 12 points, led 15-3 after one quarter and never trailed in scoring a season-high in points.
It was the first time the Bolts eclipsed the 60-point mark this season.
“Our game plan was to be aggressive at both ends. You saw that with the press on defense and then we went right at them on offense and got some early fouls,” Padget said. “I really like where we are at. We are playing our best ball of the season.”
The Bolts got the win for Padget, who was coaching in front of his former high school coach Jeff Graves.
Graves, who coached Padget at Moravia before taking over the program at Davis County, made the trip from Bloomfield to support the Mustangs and watch his former player on the opposing bench.
“It was fun seeing him tonight,” said Padget, who also coached under Graves for a few seasons at Moravia. “He’s meant so much to me. I learned a lot of what I know about basketball from him. I was hoping he would make the trip up here.”
Davis County (1-17) got things together after a slow start. The Mustangs, who have lost 15 straight games, were outscored by only one point in the second and third quarters. Baxter pulled even further away though with an 18-5 advantage in the fourth.
“The fast start was really important. We got them in foul trouble and our press worked well tonight too,” said Jessen, who added five rebounds and five steals to her 22 points. “We are flowing right now. We are playing well together.”
Jessen had the big night, but several other Bolts were factors in the win. Nine players scored in all and five put in at least six points.
Senior Jordynn Wesselink tallied 10 points and nine rebounds and seniors Sailor Hinegardner and Ashlee Johnson and sophomore Sadie Meyer all scored six points.
Hinegardner also had four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Freshman Sophie Meyer grabbed five boards and delivered three assists, senior Kaitlynn Kelly tallied four points, three rebounds and three assists.
“We have been trying to get to 60 points for a while. I am glad we got there tonight,” Padget said. “We did it the way we want to do it — with defense and transition offense.”
The Bolts are still playing without junior Sydney Schmidt, who is not playing because of concussion symptoms. There is no timetable for her return.
Baxter 41, Waterloo Christian 24
WATERLOO — Baxter is hitting its stride at the right time of the season. The Bolts claimed their fourth win in five games on Feb. 2, defeating Waterloo Christian 41-24.
Freshman McKenzie Eslinger had career highs in points and rebounds. She recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Hinegardner tallied 10 points, six rebounds and five steals, and Wesselink grabbed 12 boards in the win.
Baxter grabbed 47 rebounds and won the game despite missing 23 free throws. The Bolts swiped 24 steals, highlighted by Hinegardner’s five, sophomore Caitlyn Bruntz’s four and three apiece from Eslinger, Wesselink and junior Kaylin Van Ryswyk.
Waterloo Christian (1-17) lost its eighth straight game.
Colo-NESCO 69, Baxter 32
The Baxter girls never got its footing against Colo-NESCO during a home loss to the Royals on Jan. 30.
Colo-NESCO led 12-4 after one quarter and scored at least 18 points in each of the final three periods during a 69-32 win. The Royals completed a perfect Iowa Star Conference South Division season at 10-0. They improved to 16-3 overall.
Wesselink led the Bolts with 11 points and five rebounds, Jessen tallied eight points and Hinegardner finished with three points, four assists and three rebounds.