Deeper Trojans hold off Sparty, stay unbeaten

GRUNDY CENTER – At 6-foot-3, South Tama County sophomore Tieranny Keahna will be a mismatch for most players she goes against this season.

Friday night, the Trojans exploited that advantage against the much smaller Grundy Center Spartans and Keahna’s 10 points in the fourth quarter guided the visitors to a 46-41 victory.

Keahna finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals, while six other Trojans scored in a win that kept STC unbeaten in the NICL West Division.

“We need to understand that she will have a mismatch in there and we need to get it into her more,” STC coach Marsha Keahna said. “I am happy where we are at though. This team has lots of balance and we can go to several different options at the offensive end.”

Keahna had just two points at halftime, but stayed in the game because of strong play from sophomores Madie Bacon and Dani Stubbs and senior Trisha Walz.

Walz finished with six points, 11 rebounds and three assists in the win, while Bacon had eight points, six boards and four assists. Stubbs had a strong first quarter to give the Trojans’ an early lead and finished with six points and six rebounds.

“We played hard. We are going to be in a lot of close games. We just need to forge ahead,” said Grundy Center coach Matt Lindeman, whose Spartans are now 2-3 overall and 1-2 in NICL West play. “We had a nice stretch in the second quarter and continued to play well in the third but they made a run against us in the fourth and we couldn’t overcome it.”

The Trojans led 8-6 after one quarter, and 15-9 early in the second quarter before the Spartans started to attack the basket. They used six straight free throws during an 8-0 run to take a 17-15 lead and the game was tied at 19-all at halftime.

The Spartans went ahead by six in the third, but the Trojans ended the frame on a 10-2 run and led by two heading to the final frame.

That’s when Tieranny Keahna took over. And once she established herself inside in the lane, there wasn’t much the Spartans could do to stop her. She scored STC’s first six points of the period to push its lead to 37-33 and then after an Alyssa Mathews putback knotted the score at 41-all late, the Trojan sophomore came up with a putback of her own and then finished off the win with two freebies from the line with .5 seconds left on the clock.

Paige Van Dyk also buried two free throws during the Trojans’ 6-0 run that put them ahead for good.

“She had two at half, so we did a pretty good job on her,” Coach Lindeman said of Keahna. “There were some 3-point plays there late that I wasn’t so sure about. We tried to front her. We were so close at certain times. The girls are working hard and we’ll just keep forging ahead.”

Tieranny Keahna suffered a knee injury last season and is still not fully recovered. When she gets healthy, her mom – the Trojans’ head coach – believes STC (3-2, 3-0) will be pretty tough to stop.

“With the make up of this team the way it is, when she gets healthy, I think we will be unstoppable in the NICL,” Coach Keahna said. “We have a lot of balance. We have a strong group of sophomores and three smart seniors who have been playing for a long time. We have more than one option.”

Mathews, a sophomore, led the Spartans with 15 points off the bench, while sophomore Katie Lindeman finished with nine points but battled foul trouble all night. She left the game with four fouls midway through the third quarter and did not return until about midway through the fourth.

“It hurt. She usually doesn’t foul that much,” said Coach Lindeman, Katie’s father. “It was a gut feeling. I put her in when I thought we needed it.”

Jessica Ackerson also had nine points for the Spartans, who will next host Meskwaki Settlement School on Monday before traveling to NICL West rival South Hardin on Tuesday.

The Trojans won the game despite missing 11 free throws. STC will next travel to NICL West rival East Marshall on Tuesday night.

“I am pleased with where we are at,” said Coach Keahna. “We have to step up now and be prepared. Teams are going to be after us.”