Cub girls overcome early obstacles to post winning record: Nevada goes 12-10
The Nevada girls’ basketball team braved the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the loss of its leading scorer to post a winning record and place second in the Heart of Iowa Conference during the 2020-21 season.
The Cubs, like every team in the state, faced uncertainty when the season began due to COVID. They had to reschedule multiple games before Christmas due to the virus affecting some of their opponents.
Nevada also had to replace their top three scorers from last year. Kacie Rewerts graduated, Elie Tuhn transferred to Baxter and leading returning scorer Addi Vorm missed the season with an ACL injury.
But despite those obstacles the Cubs improved 2.5 games from a year ago. They finished 12-10 and took second in the Heart of Iowa Conference behind Class 3A state qualifier Roland-Story with a 9-3 conference mark.
“We faced many unknowns about us as a team and unknowns about how the season would unfold,” Nevada head coach Jordan Bentley said. “We met every one of those challenges with a positive attitude and a determination to not settle. We with wins against ranked opponents and many of our opponents will be playing in the state tournament. Very proud of this team and the unity that they showed throughout the year.”
Nevada’s foes that are participating in the girls’ state tournament this week are Bondurant-Farrar in 4A, Roland-Story and Clear Lake in 3A and Grundy Center in 2A. The Cubs fell to Bondurant-Farrar (73-38), Roland-Story twice (65-47 and 51-34) and Clear Lake (56-34), but they defeated Grundy Center Jan. 7 at home, 45-39.
Nevada swept Prairie City-Monroe (48-29 and 49-28), Saydel (60-27 and 58-20), Greene County (50-23 and 50-32) and South Hamilton (45-25 and 49-42) during the season. The Cubs split with West Marshall, winning 48-30 on Dec. 11 and losing 48-35 on Jan. 28 and picked up a non-conference win over Hampton-Dumont-CAL (53-40).
The Cubs other losses in the regular season were to Boone (60-57), Iowa Falls-Alden (55-41), Grinnell (60-21) and Newton (37-34).
In the 3A regional quarterfinals Nevada picked up its third victory over PCM with a 41-17 triumph at home. The Cubs fell to seventh-ranked Des Moines Christian in the semifinals four days later, 56-40, to end the season.
“Some of the biggest highlights for us as a team was the win before winter break against West Marshall, a team that ended our season a year ago, then coming back after winter break and getting the victory over a very talented and ranked Grundy Center team,” Bentley said. “I also think the (regional quarterfinal) win against PCM is going to be a huge momentum maker for our program and is really something the kids wanted to accomplish this season after coming up short the last two years in the first round of the postseason.”
Bentley said defense was the biggest strength for Nevada.
The Cubs only gave up 41 points per game and limited their foes to 33 % shooting from the field. They also forced 22 turnovers per game.
“I believe that our speed, size and ability to communicate made us so effective on the defensive end,” Bentley said. “I think another reason you could see our defense excel was because of the great coaches we have. Allyson Simpson and Justin Kuethe did a tremendous job teaching our kids at the JV and JV2 levels and then during varsity games were able to translate the teaching over to our varsity kids. I believe those two coaches are 100 % a strength of our team.”
On offense Nevada averaged 44.5 points. The Cubs shot 36.5 % from the field, 26.3 % from 3-point range and 52.3 % from the line and they averaged 19.5 turnovers.
“The biggest struggle for us this season was finding consistency within our offense,” Bentley said. “We had gaps to fill scoring-wise in our lineup. At times I thought we showed great progress in our offense, but there were also the games that we really struggled to find a consistent scorer on the floor.”
Junior forward Shelbi Hazlitt and senior center Sydney Mosinski stepped as the top two scoring options for Nevada this season.
Hazlitt averaged 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals. She made a team-high 28 3-pointers, shot 39.7 % from field and made 74.4 % of her free throws.
Mosinski put up 11.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game and she also averaged one block per contest. Mosinski shot 55.4 % from the field.
Maddie Dunham (4.6), Alexandria Arnaud (4.3), Bridget Cahill (4.3) and Tessa Borwick (4.0) all averaged at least four points for Nevada during the season. Dunham added 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, Arnaud 3.0 assists and 1.9 steals, Cahill 1.6 rebounds and Borwick 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
Cahill also made 25 3-pointers.
Savannah Skaags averaged one steal per game, Mayzi Weig 2.4 points and 1.4 steals and Aubrey Gibson 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds. Kayla Dunson, Katelyn Kingsbury, Ella Higgins and Faith Hendricks were also valuable contributors off the bench.
Next season Nevada must replace the leadership of Mosinski, Vorm, Hendricks, Gibson, Dunson and Kingsbury along with the seniors at the JV level.
“They were all super great kids to work with and I wish them nothing but the best,” Bentley said. “The growth (Mosinski) made as a player from the time I got here in her sophomore year to now is outstanding, We used (Gibson) in many different ways which made her really work on a 3-point shot that we needed a few times this season in big games. I also have to mention Addi Vorm, who didn’t get the chance to play out her senior season, but she meant so much to this team by showing up every day, leading her teammates and just bringing energy at all times. Addi is a fierce competitor and has a strong passion for the game of basketball. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors to work with. They are all great students and overall just great people.”
But the Cubs do return eight players with varsity experience. Bentley said lessened COVID restrictions should help his returning players develop even more heading into next season as they look to post another winning season and make a deeper run in regionals.
“The nucleus of our offense returns with our leading scorer, leader in assists and our leader in steals,” Bentley said. “We also have a strong group of incoming junior and sophomores that will push our top eight kids for playing time. Next year's team will come in with the expectation to win the conference and to make a deep run into the postseason. I believe as a program we are headed in the right direction and there is a lot of excitement around the basketball team moving forward.”