1993 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA—Wartburg College hit 53 percent from the floor as the Central College women’s basketball squad dropped its season finale 83-53 Saturday.
Wartburg (15-10 overall, 10-6 Iowa Conference) led 38-26 at the half and extended the margin to 45-28 before Central went on a 12-3 run. A Laura Porter (senior, Monroe, PCM HS) 3-point bucket made it 48-40 but Wartburg responded with six straight points and held double-digit leads the rest of the way.
Porter finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting but the Dutch hit 36.4 percent overall and were outrebounded 39-32. Forward Haley Brillhart (freshman, Pella) had nine points, four steals and two assists while center Andrea Clark (sophomore, Guthrie Center) had five rebounds and guard Ashley Gerst (junior, Columbus Junction, Wapello HS) passed out six assists.
“Wartburg is big and physical and we had a difficult time stopping their inside players,” coach Jerry Nikkel said. “Our youngsters are getting better but we’re just not able to handle that type of post game yet.
“Offensively we got hurt when they went to a zone. We weren’t very consistent in shooting the ball from the perimeter.”
The Dutch graduate three key players. Emily De Jong (senior, Ankeny) had her season end with an injury in early January, but still leaves Central with school career records for 3-point goals (118) and 3-point percentage (40.5).
“I really hated it that Emily couldn’t finish the season on the floor,” Nikkel said. “Not having her obviously affected how we played. But she still had a great career.”
Porter finished in 12th place on the school career scoring list with 1,035 points. She ranks third in career assists (292) and seventh in career steals (138).
I give Laura a heck of a lot of credit for coming back after missing a year because of knee surgery,” Nikkel said. “That took a lot of guts. You never know how the knee will hold up. But she worked so hard on her rehab and got herself in great playing shape. She was our go-to player and had a great, great year.”
Megan Carman (senior, Newton) had her best season by far, Nikkel said.
“Megan had a good year,” he said. “She played so well defensively and in hitting shots when she needed to. We didn’t really expect that kind of offense out of her. That was nice to see.”
Central closes at 8-17 overall and 4-12 in the league. While it was a disappointing finish, the Dutch nonetheless doubled last year’s win total in Nikkel’s first season.
“We came a long ways,” Nikkel said. “We wanted to establish a style of play where we play pressure defense and push the ball on offense. I think we did that. We just have to grow, we have to get more physical and we have to become better shooters.
“We missed a couple of our goals. We wanted to get to double-digit wins and we would have loved to make the conference tournament. But the kids worked so hard all year. It’s a long season from Oct. 15 to Feb. 21. That’s a lot of basketball and a lot of time spent. Yet I felt that every single day at practice they gave their best.”