Shelbi Hazlitt, defense power No. 15 Nevada girls past Boone: What we learned from Cubs' 63-38 victory

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Nevada's Shelbi Hazlitt beats Boone's Morgan Kathman for possession of the ball during the second half of the Cubs' 63-38 victory over the Toreadors to open the season Tuesday in Boone. Hazlitt scored a game-high 27 points for Nevada.

An upstart Nevada girls' basketball team proved it was worthy of a preseason ranking Tuesday with a 63-38 victory over Boone at the Nevada High School Field House in Nevada.

The Cubs were ranked 15th in Class 3A by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union to open the season. They looked every bit that good and more against the Toreadors, jumping out to a 25-5 lead and never looking back.

"It's the first time in five years Nevada has started off 1-0," Nevada head coach Jordan Bentley said. "Boone is always a tough, well-coached team to start off with. We just had key runs in there that allowed us to get our tempo going."

Here is what we learned from Nevada's decisive win:

Nevada has grown up

The Cubs looked like a team that has been there before. They were all over Boone defensively in the first half and Shelbi Hazlitt sparked a big second quarter on offense that helped Nevada put the game away early.

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"We're more mature," Bentley said. "We had four seniors coming back that were all-conference. There's just a lot of experience. They're a good group we've been working with for awhile and tonight's a glimpse of where we can get to."

The victory over Boone was a landmark win for Nevada. The Toreadors had beaten the Cubs five-straight times to open the season prior to Tuesday, with four of those victories coming by three points or less.

Defense dominates early

Nevada was relentless defensively in the first half.

Boone didn't score until nearly 6 1/2 minutes had gone off the clock. By halftime the Toreadors had only scored 12 points and they were down 20 going into the locker room.

Nevada forward Maddie Dunham fires a pass between Boone's Natalee Danner (10) and Kelsea Moorman as she's falling down during the Cubs' 63-38 victory over the Toreadors to open the season Tuesday in Nevada. Dunham scored 12 points in the Cub win.

"We just said we wanted to play gritty," Nevada senior forward Maddie Dunham said. "Always get down and get dirty — that's what my mindset is, every possession get down, get a stop and make sure they don't score."

Hazlitt lights it up

Hazlitt had one of the best games of her career Tuesday night. She went off for a game-high 27 points.

"Seeing that 15th ranking, I think everybody was just ready to go out and play tonight," Hazlitt said. "All my shots fell, so I was really pleased with that. Everyone was just moving the ball really well and we've been working on that a lot in practice, so it was amazing to see."

Hazlitt went for 10 points in the second quarter. She scored seven more in the third to help Nevada build a 25-point lead.

"Shelbi was big tonight," Bentley said. "She's a very good basketball player. She feeds off of her teammates and if they can put some confidence in her Shelbi will have a good night. She can do a lot of special things that not a lot of kids that we see can do."

Dunham stepped up with 12 points. Mayzi Weig added seven, Emma Strottman five and Alex Arnaud and Bridget Cahill four apiece.

Natalee Danner paced Boone with 17 points. Audrey Castle chipped in nine for the Toreadors.

Nevada 63, Boone 38

Boone       2        10        12        14 — 38

Nevada    11        21        17        14 — 63

Leading scorers

Boone: Natalee Danner 17 points.

Nevada: Shelbi Hazlitt 27 points.