Spartans tiptoe past Mustangs in OT

LE GRAND – Grundy Center got the scoring boost off the bench it needed and the Spartans survived overtime, holding the East Marshall girls’ basketball team scoreless in the extra period for a 51-44 victory in Saturday’s NICL West Division make-up game.

Ally Jansen’s long 2-pointer just 25 seconds into overtime would be all the Spartans needed to net their third straight win going into a grueling week against the conference frontrunners.

Grundy Center (8-6, 4-5) got offensive contributions from six of its seven players to see the court in Saturday’s contest, highlighted by Stephanie Faust’s second-quarter surge that helped the Spartans regain a lead they never relinquished.

East Marshall (4-10, 4-5) fired out to a lead of as many as nine points in the first half, going in front 17-8 after Taylor Fricke’s short jumper on an inbounds play gave the Mustangs the largest lead of the game.

But Grundy Center’s answer came in the form of Faust, who sparked an 11-0 Spartan run with eight points. Madison Beenken’s first of two 3-pointers in the game aided the rally that put the Mustangs in a sudden 19-17 hole just 3 minutes after Fricke’s basket.

Mariah Fritz ended East Marshall’s scoring drought with a driving layup along the baseline, and the score would be tied four more times.

Ashley Allen’s only 3-pointer of the game brought East Marshall into a 42-all tie. Katie Lindeman cashed in on a long 2-pointer for the Spartans, but Fricke answered with one of her own to tie the game at 44-all with 1:21 left in regulation.

Both teams had the ball twice more, but neither could convert on the offensive end. Grundy Center scored the only seven points of overtime, with Lindeman netting four of them to help deliver the victory.

Lindeman had team highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Faust came off the bench to notch 10 points, four boards, three steals and two blocked shots. It was the third straight double-digit scoring night for Faust, who averages 6.3 points per game.

“Steph has really stepped up here the last couple games,” said Grundy Center coach Matt Lindeman. “She’s probably part of the reason we’ve got two wins in those games too. She’s been a big part of that success, but she’s not the only one.”

Beenken finished with nine points, Jensen and Jessica Ackerson had eight points apiece, and Alyssa Mathews made four free throws in the Spartan victory. Ackerson tallied seven assists and five steals as well.

“It doesn’t always look great but they’re giving everything they’ve got,” Coach Lindeman said.

Fricke scored a game-high 13 points to lead East Marshall, Meriel Leavy netted 12 points, Allen had 11 and Fritz tallied eight. They were the Mustangs’ only scorers.

Fricke made it a double-double with 10 rebounds, and Leavy had six boards. Allen dished out four assists and Maci Fritz got three steals coming in off the bench.

“Obviously having not played them yet there was a little bit of being unprepared,” Mustangs coach Missy Pieters said of the Spartans. “I was a little concerned about fatigue, because the girls played a rough, emotional game on Tuesday and then (Friday) night was a heartbreaker.

“We knew Lindeman was the heart and soul of their team but their role players stepped up and did what they were supposed to do. The one or two shots they hit, we really didn’t get tonight.”

East Marshall and Grundy Center face the same teams this week. The Mustangs go on the road to meet South Hardin on Tuesday and South Tama Friday. Grundy Center travels to South Tama Tuesday before hosting South Hardin on Friday night.