January 18, 2011. Vinton-Shellsburg defeated Center Point-Urbana 54-48. Before taking the court Friday night in Vinton, CPU had bounced VS 16 times in a decade of dominance.
But this year’s Vikettes squad isn’t your typical team. Not a Vikettes team motivated by a 59-56 overtime loss to Clear Creek-Amana on Tuesday.
“It was a rough loss,” VS senior Kayla Griffith said. “We had that game. We missed our last second shot for the win. It motivated us to get this win because we were so close in the last one.”
Shutting down the fourth-ranked Stormin’ Pointers was the name of the game for VS, and that’s exactly what they accomplished for 13 minutes in the first half. After a tight 7-5 start in the opening quarter, the Vikette defense held CPU to zero points in the second quarter. Not a single bucket or even free throw. VS coach Rich Haisman looked at the score before heading halftime. 16-5 Vikettes.
“These girls just defended like gangbusters,” Haisman said. “They made [CPU] take tough shots. Win or lose, we knew going into this game we’d learn a lot about ourselves from what we were truly good at to what we needed to improve. We played hard, not scared and with no quit for four quarters tonight.”
It wasn’t as if CPU came into Vinton unaware or unprepared for their WaMaC West rivals. With both teams battling alongside Clear Creek-Amana for the top spot in division, coach Philip Klett knew the Stormin’ Pointers had a battle ahead of them.
“They play hard, do a nice job defensively, and play aggressively on offense,” Klett said. “We knew we’d have our hands full and I’m pleased our defense at least kept us within reach. I give credit to Vinton for outplaying us offensively in the first half.”
But no one in the VS locker room at halftime believed this game was over. Sophomore Alyssa Griffith was proud of the fact the Vikettes had shut down CPU junior Ryley Goebel the first 16 minutes, and she knew the defense had to continue their success for another 16. The scoring drought was over for CPU as they poured in 20 points in the third quarter and got Goebel the ball for several big buckets. Alyssa continued to battle inside as she went to work on the defensive glass to limit CPU’s possessions and keep a slight 28-25 lead for the Vikettes going into the fourth quarter despite a buzzer beater three from CPU junior Ryanne Hansen.
“I remember thinking how I wanted this win so bad,” Alyssa said. “I want to prove we are a team everyone needs to watch out for. We want people to come out to the games and see us this season.”
Fouls took their toll on both squads, but CPU’s foul total was focused primarily on Goebel and senior post Emma DeSmet. VS senior Lucy Howes-Vonstein drew two fouls on Goebel to put the Northern Iowa commit in foul trouble and hit some a big time shot to send the VS faithful on their feet. But the main girl on Goebel Friday night was Kayla.
“On Wednesday I told her she was guarding Ryley,” Haisman said. “Ryley is a monster, but Kayla loves to take on that challenge. Whether it’s their point guard or a post, Kayla is not afraid of anyone. She was ready for this assignment tonight.”
Goebel fouled out with two minutes left in the game, but the Vikettes couldn’t let up. CPU sophomore guards Alivia Sweeney and Tayler Reaves step up with several big shots to keep it a single-possesion game. Alyssa continued to attack and draw fouls, making the final point in the 38-34 win while sister Kayla celebrated at the final buzzer.
“We lost to CPU 74-17 when I was a sophomore,” Kayla said. “This win means so much to me because it shows how much we’ve grown since I was a sophomore.”
Goebel led the Stormin’ Pointers with 10 points, followed by Hansen and senior Claire Neighbor with seven points each.
“I hope we can learn a lot from this game,” Klett said. “It’s mid January. We still have almost a month left in the regular season. We can get better each day.”
Alyssa Griffith had 10 points to lead the Vikettes, followed by sophomore Ashlie Meyer with seven points while Kayla Griffith, sophomore Abby Davis and Howes-Vonstein each scored five points.
“The message I got from the team yesterday was they believed we are the kind of team that can play with teams like CPU,” Haisman said. “They went after every play with no quit. Now we have to find ways to improve and go from there. But tonight, holy smokes what a night!”
CPU (10-3) will host Benton on Tuesday and South Tama on Friday. VS (12-2) will host South Tama on Tuesday before a week-long break to prepare for a rematch with CCA in Tiffin on January 26.