You are the owner of this article.

As comfort with coach comes, so do Reiver wins

  • 0

Chenelle Pelle knows a thing or two about what it takes to win in junior-college basketball.

The Iowa Western sophomore played a major role on last year’s Reiver team that finished with a school record 31 wins and a fifth-place finish at the NJCAA women’s national tournament.

Now in her second year, Pelle, is part of what is looking like another team with promise. Following Saturday’s 84-53 drubbing of Fort Scott, the No. 16 Reivers are 16-3 overall.

When asked if this year’s Reiver roster has what it takes to get back to the same stage as last year’s, Pelle was quick to respond.

“We have the pieces,” she said. “We’ve just got to put it together and keep pushing.”

Just about every one of those pieces had a hand in Saturday’s triumph. Eleven of the 12 players that saw action scored for first-year coach Lindsey Vande Hoef. Freshman Tantashea Giger led the Reivers with 13 points, while Pelle and freshman Lade Adepoju each chipped in 11.

The win was a complete team performance that was welcomed by Vande Hoef. IWCC was playing without leading scorer Blaire Thomas as she nursed an ankle injury. Even without her 14.1 points per game, the Reivers didn’t miss a beat. Every game makes them more at ease with Vande Hoef’s system.

“I think what I’m starting to see with the girls is that they’re getting more comfortable in our style of play,” Vande Hoef said. “It’s just about learning to play within the system and trying to get the right stuff at the right time.”

With Saturday’s victory, IWCC has now won four straight and 11 of its past 12 games. Of their three losses, two were to teams currently in the NJCAA poll: No. 2 Trinity Valley and No. 10 Midland. Both losses were at the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in late November.

A major reason for the recent improvement has been the play of IWCC’s freshmen. Giger is the Reivers’ second-leading scorer at 11.9 points per game. She committed to former IWCC coach Jim Turgeon, who is now the coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo, and Vande Hoef is happy that the freshman elected to remain in Council Bluffs.

“It’s almost as if I picked her for this system, and it’s actually Coach Turgeon’s recruit,” Vande Hoef said. “I feel blessed that we have her in that mix. She’s a starter who’s helping on the defensive side of things. She helps the guards with inside-out attacks.”

Giger isn’t the only first-year player adapting well. Adepoju, who hails from Overland Park, Kan., averages 6.7, and other newcomers such as Alicia Mountain (4.3 from Elkhorn, Neb.) and Melis Ucar (2.9 from Ankara, Turkey) have gained more confidence throughout the year.

With sophomores Katie Cunningham, Kendra Hicks and Destiny Harris returning from last year’s NJCAA tournament squad, the Reivers have a nice blend of fresh talent and experience.

They’ll need that moving forward. IWCC plays its next four games on the road, including opening region play Jan. 16 at Northeast (Neb.).

Vande Hoef is excited for what’s ahead, and she feels that if her team continues to execute, the positive results will maintain.

“We’ve got to be able to execute and have the patience and discipline in our offense to be able to score more than just in transition,” Vande Hoef said. “I think sometimes we get locked in in that that’s the only way we like to attack. Once we get those two sides pieced together, I’m excited to see where this team goes.”

Fort Scott (8-9) ..................................................... 13 19 7 14—53

Iowa Western (16-3) ........................................... 23 26 24 11—84

FS: Kayleigh Haggard 2-8 2-2 6, Alexis Byrnes 1-5 0-0 3, Kamiron Luptak 6-12 1-2 16, Tabor Spurling 1-1 0-0 3, Jordyn Danzer 4-5 0-0 11, Lillie Holtgrave 2-7 2-2 8, Kalynn Iseman 1-1 0-0 2, Carly Bohannon 2-5 0-0 4. Totals: 19-44 5-6 53.

IW: Destiny Harris 2-5 3-4 7, Chenelle Pelle 5-11 1-2 11, Tantashea Giger 5-11 2-2 13, Katie Cunningham 1-3 0-0 2, Citlali Lopez 3-4 0-0 8, Betty Akathiotou 5-8 0-0 10, Lade Adepoju 5-7 1-4 11, Alicia Mountain 2-4 0-0 5, Taylah Howard 0-1 0-0 0, Melis Ucar 2-8 2-2 7, Kendra Hicks 3-8 2-2 8, Janae Omusi 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 34-73 11-16 84.

3-point goals: FS 10-20 (Haggard 0-2, Byrnes 1-3, Luptak 3-4, Spurling 1-1, Danzer 3-4, Holtgrave 2-6), IW 5-19 (Harris 0-2, Giger 1-3, Cunningham 0-1, Lopez 2-3, Akathiotou 0-2, Mountain 1-3, Howard 0-1, Ucar 1-3, Omusi 0-1). Rebounds: FS 28 (Haggard 6), IW 39 (Adepoju 9). Assists: FS 11 (Danzer 6), IW 19 (Cunningham 6). Steals: FS 6 (6 with 1), IW 18 (Harris, Giger 3). Blocks: FS 1 (Bohannon), IW 5 (Hicks 2). Turnovers: FS 33, IW 15.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.

OWHsports on Twitter