Prosser’s career night propels Tigers past North Tama, 63-55
ELDORA – South Hardin senior Kayla Prosser had a phone call to make immediately after her Tiger squad eliminated North Tama from the Class 2A Region 2 tournament on Tuesday night.
Prosser’s father was laid up in a hospital bed following surgery but needed to know that his daughter poured in a career-high and school-record 30 points in helping the Tigers advance to the regional semifinals.
Prosser also pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out three assists and was 12-of-13 from the line as South Hardin pulled away from the Redhawks in the final minutes and kept its season alive with a 63-55 home win.
The South Hardin senior scored 12 of her 30 in the final quarter and 10 came in the final 3:30 to seal the victory.
“She was big down the stretch,” South Hardin coach Matt Thompson said. “She is a smart enough player that she won’t force things but she did a nice job leading us tonight.”
The Tigers (17-5) will next travel to No. 8 Dike-New Hartford in the regional semifinal on Friday.
The Tigers and Redhawks faced off a week ago in non-conference action, and South Hardin buried 11 3-pointers but hit just 16-of-55 from the floor in the 52-46 win.
The script for Tuesday’s win was much different. The Tigers made just three triples and instead pounded the ball inside to Prosser or Haley Lawrence or got to the bucket with dribble penetration from Prosser, Kassidy Bunger or Sarah Boomgarden.
And if the home team wasn’t converting at the rim, they were getting fouled and once again made their free throws, connecting 18-of-27 while North Tama was just 8-of-19.
“We took what they would give us. We knew Prosser could go down low with them,” said Thompson. “When they double teamed her, she found Naomi or Haley (Lawrence) cutting to the hoop on the other side. That worked every now and then and that’s what we wanted to do.
“(North Tama) made it difficult in the second half for our guards to shoot out there and to make post entries. If they were going to let us go inside, then that is what we were going to take.”
No other South Hardin player reached double figures, but Bunger scored nine points and had four rebounds, while Lawrence chipped in seven points and grabbed 10 boards.
Sam Zobel scored a team-high 18 points for the Redhawks, who came into the game winners of six of their last seven. The lone loss during that stretch came against South Hardin. Josie Youel also scored 11 points in limited action.
Despite a big advantage at the line, South Hardin had trouble putting away North Tama all night.
The Tigers led by eight after one quarter and went into halftime up 33-22. But the Redhawks made things interesting down the stretch thanks to solid efforts inside from Zobel and Youel.
North Tama (15-8) rallied in the third quarter without Youel, who missed lots of court time with foul trouble. The Redhawks got within five a few different times, but South Hardin responded with big shot after big shot.
Lydia Rose’s drive to the hoop with 3:21 to go in the quarter pushed the lead back to seven and then Prosser hit a free throw and buried a trey to give the Tigers a nine-point advantage with 2:15 to go in the third.
The Tiger lead was eight heading into what ended up being a frantic fourth quarter.
Zobel went to work inside early to keep the Redhawks close. Her first bucket made it a five-point game and then her three-point play later trimmed the deficit to four. Another bucket and a Youel free throw got the Redhawks to within three. Youel though had a chance to cut into the advantage even more but missed the front end of a one-and-one and Prosser scored eight straight Tiger points to put the home team back up nine.
“We tend to be consistently inconsistent at the free-throw line,” said North Tama coach Phil Moss. “We just shot poorly tonight from the line and had some turnovers we shouldn’t have had, too.
“(Prosser) was money from the line. She is a good player. Most of the stuff she does is done silently. She’ll hit some 3-pointers, she gets offensive rebounds and she does a lot for that team. She is just a consistent player.”
Six of Prosser’s final 10 points were scored from the line as she kept the Redhawks at arm’s length down the stretch. Boomgarden, who also battled some early foul trouble, sunk her final two free-throw attempts with 39 seconds to go to keep the Tiger lead at eight.
“We seem to make them at the end when we really need them,” Thompson said. “We have been shooting more of them in practice. They often can be the difference between winning and losing games.”
It definitely was a big reason the Tigers won the game Tuesday. South Hardin won by eight and had a 10-point differential from the stripe.
“We work on free throws in between drills in practice when we are tired. That helps a lot,” said Prosser. “Getting (Youel) and (Zobel) in foul trouble was huge for us. We knew they were in foul trouble so we just tried to take it right at them.”
Tip-off for South Hardin’s regional semifinal game against the eighth-ranked Wolverines will be 7 p.m. Friday. Dike-New Hartford ended Grundy Center’s season Tuesday with a 51-36 victory. The Tigers come into that game having won six of their last seven games.
“Our game plan won’t change a whole lot,” said Thompson. “We win games because we do what we do. We can’t veer off that and change much. We have some different offenses set up for their defense so we hope to utilize that the best we can.”
Prosser informed the T-R on Tuesday that she will play volleyball at NCAA Division III Wartburg College next season. She came into the regional quarterfinal game Tuesday averaging 17.5 points and just more than nine rebounds per contest. Dike-New Hartford has three players averaging in double-figures, including volleyball standouts Brooke Morgan and Briana Weber. The Wolverines (19-2) have won nine straight games and their only two losses this year came against 3A No. 2 Crestwood and 2A No. 4 Hudson.