Tigers finally finish, stun Southeastern

Playing a good 30 minutes of basketball has not been the problem for the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball team this season.

The issue has come in the final 10 minutes when the Tigers get punched in the mouth but can rarely punch back.

Saturday, MCC punched back, using a 13-0 run during a five-minute span in the second half to stun Southeastern, 65-54, at the Student Activity Center in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division II play.

It was the team’s first win in league play this season.

“It’s just a relief to know that we can do this,” MCC coach Allson Lacey said. “Now we know we can do it. The girls responded well to Southeastern’s run tonight.”

The Tigers led almost wire-to-wire and even held a 44-30 lead with more than 13 minutes to play. Three minutes and a 10-0 run by the Blackhawks later and that lead had shrunk to four with 10 minutes to go.

Lacey called timeout and the Tigers regrouped, scoring 13 unanswered points to go back up 57-40 with just more than 5 minutes left in the game.

“Losing the same way over and over again is tough and I think they learned what not to do,” Lacey said. “We were ready for that run and were much more focused tonight.”

Mady Van Metre triggered the late run by scoring the first seven points. Shakira Slade also scored two big buckets inside and Mackenzie Gott buried two freebies.

“We were not going to let this one get away from us,” said Van Metre, who scored a season-high 23 points. “We responded and it felt good. Hopefully we know how to get through that in the future, too.”

The Blackhawks, who were ranked 25th last week and still receiving votes in this week’s NJCAA Division II poll, got as close as 11 but suffered just their second loss in ICCAC play.

Even with the big lead, Lacey knew better than to think it was over. She had seen her team blow too many leads.

“I still felt like we could lose,” said Lacey, whose team picked up its first ICCAC win of the year. “We played a little lackluster there late but had enough to maintain it.”

Van Metre came into the game averaging 11 points. She canned three triples in the first half and went into the locker room with 13. She hit two more 3-pointers in the second half that helped her to get 23. She was 5-for-7 from deep and 7-of-14 from the floor in the win.

“I have been trying to perfect my shot with a lot of extra time,” said Van Metre, who is a former Marshalltown High School prep. “It was a good feeling but having open looks helps. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I was open.”

Lacey said Van Metre has been working extra hard in the gym and was glad to see the work finally pay off.

“She is one of the hardest working kids I have ever been around,” the former Cyclone said. “She puts in the effort and it paid off tonight.”

Van Metre wasn’t the only Tiger to dominate Saturday. While she was hitting shots from long range, Mackenzie Gott was taking care of things in the paint. She finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and hit big shots when the Tigers needed them most.

“Kenzie isn’t flashy, she just gets the job done,” Lacey said. “She understands the game and knows where she needs to be.”

The Tigers led by as many as nine in the first half following a trey by Lauran Hansen. Then a 12-2 run by the Blackhawks gave Southeastern its only lead of the game at 24-23. The Tigers ended the half by scoring eight of the final 10 points and led by five at intermission.

MCC (6-11, 1-4) scored the first eigh points of the second half to go up 39-26 and then pushed the lead to 14 following Van Metre’s fourth 3-pointer of the night.

Van Metre and Gott were the only Tigers in double-figures but Ashley Salgado and Shantal Tobler each had seven points. Salgado dished out five assists, while Tobler added seven rebounds and six assists. The Tigers out-rebounded Southeastern 31-24.

Sheila Klieber led the Blackhawks with 14, while Pearl Paulo added 12.