by Steve Peterson
West Sioux girls’ basketball team put forth its “best game of the year,” according to Head Coach Dennis Weerheim in a come-from-behind 54-59 overtime win over Gehlen Catholic in War Eagle Conference play Feb. 5 on Senior Night.
With Jade Lynn Vlotho, Bailey VanDenBerg, Carissa Anderson and Courtney Hummel (who started) playing in their regular season finale at home, the Lady Falcons rallied from a 48-40 deficit with three minutes remaining in regulation for the win and a 13-8 overall record.
“It was huge for us to go into the tournament off this win. Everyone contributed,” said Weerheim.
For West Sioux, Vlotho finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds. VanDenBerg added 14 points and six steals. Anderson added seven points, one three-pointer and three steals. Rylee Negaard had seven rebounds, five points and four steals.
Kaitlin Langel was the Lady Jays’ leader with 28 points on 12-of-19 field goal shooting but was 4-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Freshmen Allyson Westra and Amanda Mace came up with critical plays to put West Sioux over the top with steals and rebounds. Westra ended with four rebounds and Mace had two. Callie Schmidt also had four rebounds.
The Lady Falcons made 22-of-39 free throw attempts and shot 15-of-47 all field goal tries, including 2-of-8 from three-point range.
The Lady Jays had opened up a 48-40 lead with only a little more than two minutes left in regulation. A basket by Vlotho started the rally, Negaard made two free throws and VanDenBerg drove the baseline for a basket for a 48-46 deficit with 1:05 left.
At the other end, the Lady Falcons turned up the intensity on defense, and Vlotho gained big defensive rebounds on missed free throws.
Mace was fouled in a battle for a rebound and calmly sank two free throws with 43 seconds left. The Lady Falcons still had to survive two free throws, both misses, by the Lady Jays and had the ball with 1.7 seconds left. But, they did not get off a winning shot and the game went into overtime.
Gehlen Catholic took a 49-48 lead in the opening seconds of overtime but Schmidt made one free throw. VanDenBerg made the next free throw and Vlotho added two free throws for a 52-49 lead with 1:42 left. Vlotho added one more field goal.
Mace made a key steal as the freshman continued to come up big on Senior Night and Vlotho cleared away one more rebound.
“It was the most exciting win of the season and our best game we’ve played,” said Weerheim.
“The atmosphere was a little goofy on Senior Night but we were focused. I told the kids what happened last year as we lost to Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn on Senior Night and it was our first loss of the year,” said Weerheim.
“We want to take this momentum and go as far as we can in the tournament,” said Vlotho, adding the team always thought it would win.
West Sioux made the state tournament for the first time in last season’s 25-2 record run and advanced to the State Semifinals.
Langel and Emily Holtgrewe (12 points) were the main weapons for Gehlen Catholic as the visitors had a 20-13 lead after one quarter. West Sioux had a 10-5 run in the second quarter for a 25-23 halftime deficit. At one point, Vlotho scored on three straight possessions from the same spot.
The Lady Jays opened up a 38-32 lead in the third quarter but by early in the fourth quarter the Lady Falcons had cut the led to one, 40-39, on a Vlotho put-back basket.
West Sioux made 15-of-47 all field goal attempts. The Lady Falcons made 2-of-8 three-point tries. They made 22-of-30 free throw attempts. West Sioux had 40 rebounds and 16 steals.
GC 20- 5-15- 8-1-49
West Sioux had a first-round playoff bye Feb. 7 and hosted Remsen-St. Mary’s in the Class 1A playoffs. The winner advanced to the regional semifinals at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn in Hartley at 7:00 p.m., Feb. 15. The regional final will be at 7:00 p.m., Feb. 18 at Sioux Center.
“It will be a good chance for us to recuperate before the playoffs,” said Weerheim.
Final conference standings
West Sioux ended in third place in the WEC with a 7-3 league record. Hinton won the title at 10-0 record with Unity Christian taking second place with a 9-1 league record.