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No. 12 Comets edge No. 6 Cubs in thriller

North Polk’s Macy Gill goes up high over Nevada’s Emma Lodestein for a shot during the second half of the No. 12 Comets’ thrilling 56-53 victory over No. 6 Nevada in a Heart of Iowa Conference showdown between two top Class 3A teams Friday in Alleman. Gill had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Macy Gill goes up high over Nevada’s Emma Lodestein for a shot during the second half of the No. 12 Comets’ thrilling 56-53 victory over No. 6 Nevada in a Heart of Iowa Conference showdown between two top Class 3A teams Friday in Alleman. Gill had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Riley Murphy (right) fights Nevada’s Abby Stephenson for the ball during the first half of the Comets’ big win over the Cubs Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Riley Murphy (right) fights Nevada’s Abby Stephenson for the ball during the first half of the Comets’ big win over the Cubs Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman

BONDURANT – Coming off an exhaustive game the night before, the North Polk girls’ basketball team didn’t have much left in the tank when it took on Bondurant-Farrar in a non-conference battle between two ranked Class 3A teams Saturday.

North Polk, ranked 12th in 3A, had to hold on for dear life in a 56-53 home win over No. 6 Nevada on Friday. That victory took a lot out of the Comets and it showed in the first half against an unbeaten Bondurant-Farrar team ranked No. 2 in 3A.

North Polk fell behind by 12 points after one quarter and by halftime, Bondurant-Farrar had built a huge 38-14 advantage. The Comets refocused and played much stronger in the second half – outscoring the Bluejays by 13 points – but it was far too little, too late as they dropped to 5-2 on the season.

The Comets shot just 31 percent from the field and they made only 4 of 19 3-pointers and 6 of 12 free throws. North Polk held Bondurant-Farrar to 34-percent shooting from the field, but the Bluejays were a strong 17 of 20 from the line and they also hit six 3-pointers.

Miranda Murphy was the only North Polk player to score in double figures as she put up 11 points and added eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block. Freshman Macy Gill helped North Polk hold a 36-32 rebounding advantage by snaring nine boards and she also scored eight points, and came away with one steal.

Rachel Zimmermann tacked on eight points and three rebounds, Megan Murphy had seven points and one block, Hannah Becker delivered six points, seven rebounds and one block and Maddy Hill chipped in six points and rebounds apiece for the Comets.

Bondurant-Farrar (7-0) was led by an explosive 28-point outing from guard Ashley Burrows. Burrows also racked up seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Madi Atzen chimed in with 14 points for Bondurant-Farrar after hitting 4 of 7 3-pointers. Keely Bycroft added four points, nine rebounds and two steals; Emily Wilson totaled four points, two assists and a pair of steals and Lexi Atzen tacked on three points, six rebounds and four assists for the Bluejays.

Bondurant-Farrar 57, North Polk 46

NP 9 5 12 20 – 46

B-F 21 17 2 17 – 57

North Polk (46) – Macy Gill 3-15 2-8 8, Megan Murphy 3-17 0-0 7, Hannah Becker 3-3 0-0 6, Maddy Hill 1-4 4-4 6, Rachel Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Miranda Murphy 5-12 0-0 11, Rachel Zimmerman 3-8 0-0 8, Rebecca Rimathe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-59 6-12 46. 3-point field goals (4): Zimmerman 2, Me. Murphy, Mi. Murphy. Rebounds (36): Gill 9. Assists (2): Mi. Murphy 2. Steals (8): Mi. Murphy 3. Blocks (3): Me. Murphy, Becker, Mi. Murphy.

Bondurant-Farrar (57) – Lizzy Trulson 1-1 0-0 2, Lexi Atzen 1-4 1-3 3, Emily Wilson 1-7 2-2 4, Madi Atzen 5-13 0-1 14, Ashley Burrows 6-11 14-14 28, Amy Stock 1-4 0-0 2, Keely Bycroft 2-10 0-0 4. Totals: 17-50 17-20 57. 3-point field goals (6): M. Atzen 4, Burrows 2. Rebounds (32); Bycroft 9. Assists (12); L. Atzen 4, Burrows 4. Steals (9): Burrows 3. Blocks: None.

ALLEMAN – Smiles and sighs of relief swept over the faces of the players and coaches of the North Polk girls’ basketball team following and exhilarating 56-53 Heart of Iowa Conference victory over Nevada Friday in Alleman.

In a game between two ranked Class 3A teams, the No. 10 Comets built a 48-37 lead midway through the fourth quarter on the strength of an 11-0 run from late in the third quarter through the early stages of the fourth. But just when it seemed North Polk had things in hand, Nevada freshman Claire Ausman came up with some huge 3-pointers and the No. 6 Cubs came up with some big defensive stops to put the Comets on their heels.

A 3-pointer from Megan Pringnitz got the ball rolling for Nevada. Jessica Helton followed by hitting 1 of 2 free throws to get Nevada within seven, but North Polk answered with a basket from Macy Gill.

Nevada missed the front end of three-straight one-and-one trips to the foul line, but North Polk was unable to take advantage as Nevada stayed within striking distance at 51-45 heading into the final minute of play.

With 57 seconds to go Ausman drilled a 3-pointer to close North Polk’s lead to 53-48. Rachel Zimmermann hit two huge free throws 11 seconds later for the Comets, but Ausman came back with another long bomb to get Nevada within two.

Zimmermann was unable to hit on two free throws with 28 seconds left and then with 18 ticks on the clock Ausman canned 1 of 2 free throws to pull Nevada within 53-52. Zimmerman came back to hit 1 of 2 shots on another trip to the line, pushing North Polk’s lead back to two with 12 seconds left.

Nevada decided to go for the tie as Helton – a veteran point guard – drove in and got fouled with just five seconds remaining. Helton made the first free throw, but she was off the mark on the second.

All-state forward Miranda Murphy was there to grab the rebound for the Comets and she was fouled with four seconds remaining. Murphy showed why she is one of the best all-around players in 3A by calmly sinking both of her free throw attempts.

“There was a little pressure,” Murphy said of the two big free throws. “I’m just thankful they went in.”

Nevada had one last desperation chance to tie with a 3-pointer, but Helton was off the mark as North Polk bounced back from a loss at Gilbert earlier in the week to improve to 4-1 in the HOIC.

“They are a great team and we were fortunate to win,” North Polk head coach Clint Albertsen said. “There are a lot of things we’ve got to clean up late in games and that’s on me. But people stepped up. Macy really stepped up for us – she’s just an athlete – and Miranda and Megan (Murphy) were solid again. Whenever it seemed the momentum would hit a shot for us and calm things down.”

Miranda ended up with a game-high 20 points and she also pulled down 10 rebounds and had two steals and one assist. She said the 62-59 loss at Gilbert three days earlier provided plenty of motivation for her team down the stretch against Nevada.

“We were all just really determined,” Murphy said. “Everyone had to guard their girl individually and work a little harder.”

Megan – Miranda’s twin sister – ended up with 12 points after making 5 of 10 field goals, including 2 of 4 3-pointers. The Murphy girls came up huge together during North Polk’s big run late in the third quarter – combining for all 11 points as Megan scored six and Miranda netted the other five.

Gill ended up with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two steals before fouling out. The energetic freshman helped North Polk own a huge 19-11 advantage on the offensive glass and 43-30 overall rebounding advantage as her constant motor gave Nevada’s bigger post players fits inside.

“I’ve been working really hard in practice,” Gill said. “I’m quick and you just try and sneak under (their big girls) and get all the rebounds you can.”

Gill said it felt great to come up big in a huge victory at home after the tough loss at Gilbert earlier in the week.

“It makes the game fun and that’s the big thing,” Gill said. “It’s also nerve-racking, but it’s exciting to be out there.”

Zimmerman chipped in eight points, six rebounds and one block, Hannah Becker added four points and six rebounds and freshmen Maddy Hill and Riley Murphy combined to grab seven rebounds for North Polk.

The loss was Nevada’s first in conference play as the Cubs dropped to 4-1 in the HOIC and 4-2 overall.

Ausman hit 4 of 6 3-pointers and ended up with a career high 17 points and she also had three steals for Nevada. Pringnitz recorded 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, Helton had eight points, four assists and four steals, Cassabaum ended up with seven points, 12 rebounds and six blocks and Emma Lodestein tacked on eight points for the Cubs.

North Polk 56, Nevada 53

N 7 15 8 23 – 53

NP 14 6 15 21 – 56

Nevada (53) – Claire Ausman 6-10 1-2 17, Abby Stephenson 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Pringnitz 5-17 0-1 13, Emma Lodestein 4-6 0-0 8, Alli Fey 0-1 0-0 0, Jessica Helton 2-16 4-7 8, Kati Cassabaum 1-2 5-8 7, Christine Ausman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-52 10-22 53. 3-point field goals (7): Cl. Ausman 4, Pringnitz 3. Rebounds (30): Cassabaum 12. Assists (14): Pringnitz 6. Steals (10): Helton 4. Blocks (8): Cassabaum 6.

North Polk (56) – Macy Gill 5-18 2-5 12, Megan Murphy 5-10 0-1 12, Hannah Becker 1-4 2-4 4, Maddy Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Rachel Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Miranda Murphy 6-14 7-8 20, Rachel Zimmerman 2-8 4-8 8. Totals: 19-55 15-26 56. 3-point field goals (3): Me. Murphy 2, Mi. Murphy. Rebounds (43): Gill 11. Assists (2): Me. Murphy, Mi. Murphy. Steals (7): Gill 2, Mi. Murphy 2. Blocks (1): Zimmerman.

GILBERT – Road games against Gilbert continue to be a thorn in North Polk’s side as the Comets saw a big first-half lead evaporate in a 62-59 loss to the Tigers Dec. 10.

North Polk – then ranked 10th in Class 3A – had an awesome start with 22 points in the first quarter. By halftime the Comets were up 38-26 and appeared well on their way to remaining undefeated on the season.

But in the third quarter everything fell apart.

Gilbert held North Polk to just five points in the third. Meanwhile, the Tiger offense picked up a couple notches and by the end of the quarter the Comets found themselves trailing, 45-43.

North Polk turned things around offensively in the fourth quarter. But the Comets were unable to make up any ground as Gilbert remained hot on offense and did just enough to hold on and hand North Polk its first loss of the season.

The Comets dropped to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the HOIC and Gilbert improved to 3-2 and 3-1 respectively.

Both teams shot well from the field as Gilbert canned 47 percent of its shots and North Polk shot 46 percent from the field. The Comets held a 20-7 edge in free-throw attempts and a 29-26 rebounding advantage, but outside shooting proved to be the difference for Gilbert as the Tigers made 8 of 17 3-pointers compared to North Polk’s 3 of 9 showing from long range.

Miranda and Megan Murphy each netted 17 points for North Polk in the loss. Miranda also had 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Macy Gill stepped up with nine points and three steals and fellow freshman Riley Murphy tacked on six points, three rebounds and two steals. Rachel Zimmerman added four points and three steals, Maddy Hill had four points and one assist and Hannah Becker chipped in two points, four rebounds and one assist.

Hillary Mosiman and Paige Hoiberg were the go-to players for Gilbert. Mosiman hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, three assists and one block and Hoiberg went 3 of 6 from long range in finishing with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Gilbert 62, North Polk 59

NP 22 16 5 16 – 59

G 12 14 19 17 – 62

North Polk (59) – Macy Gill 4-5 0-0 9, Megan Murphy 5-14 5-5 17, Hannah Becker 1-1 0-0 2, Maddy Hill 2-5 0-2 4, Rachel Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Murphy 3-6 0-4 6, Miranda Murphy 5-13 7-8 17, Rachel Zimermann 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 22-48 12-20 59. 3-point field goals (3): Me. Murphy 2, Gill. Rebounds (29): Mi. Murphy 14. Assists (7): Mi. Murphy 5. Steals (13): Mi. Murphy 5. Blocks: None.

Gilbert (62) – Olivia Tibben 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Reed 2-3 0-0 4, Hillary Mosiman 6-10 0-0 17, Kelly Anderson 0-3 0-0 0, Paige Hoiberg 6-11 0-0 15, Taylor Broshar 2-8 5-6 9, Elise Powers 5-8 1-1 11, Jane Brown 2-5 0-0 4, Chase DeBont 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 24-51 6-7 62. 3-point field goals (8): Mosiman 5, Hoiberg 3. Rebounds (26): Brown 9. Assists (20): Hoiberg 6. Steals (5): Powers 2. Blocks (4): DeBont 2.

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