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No. 7 Comets come up short at No. 5 Nevada

North Polk’s Megan Murphy tries to power up a shot over Nevada’s Jessica Helton on a drive during the No. 7 Comets’ game with the No. 5 Cubs (Class 3A) Friday at Nevada. Murphy scored seven points before leaving the game late in the third quarter with an injury. The Comets fell by a 66-52 score. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Megan Murphy tries to power up a shot over Nevada’s Jessica Helton on a drive during the No. 7 Comets’ game with the No. 5 Cubs (Class 3A) Friday at Nevada. Murphy scored seven points before leaving the game late in the third quarter with an injury. The Comets fell by a 66-52 score. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk girls’ basketball coach Clint Albertsen gives instructions to his players during the Comets’ game with Nevada. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk girls’ basketball coach Clint Albertsen gives instructions to his players during the Comets’ game with Nevada. Photo by Joe Randleman
Miranda Murphy powers up a shot against Nevada’s Kati Cassabaum (rear) and Megan Pringnitz. Photo by Joe Randleman
Miranda Murphy powers up a shot against Nevada’s Kati Cassabaum (rear) and Megan Pringnitz. Photo by Joe Randleman

NP loses battle for top spot in the HOIC, 66-52

NEVADA – The quest for consecutive Heart of Iowa Conference championships by the North Polk girls’ basketball team hit a major bump in the road Friday when the Comets took on Nevada in a battle between two top-10 Class 3A teams at the Nevada High School Field House.

North Polk, ranked No. 7, had swept the No. 5 Cubs en route to last year’s title and the Comets defeated the Cubs again in December at Alleman. But on Friday, North Polk couldn’t contain the combination of strong inside play and a great perimeter game by Nevada as the Comets suffered a 66-52 loss to the red-hot Cubs.

North Polk led 15-12 early in the second quarter, but then Nevada’s Megan Pringnitz and Jessica Helton hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Pringnitz added a putback to the Cubs up by five. Nevada led by six at the half and then opened the second half on a 7-0 run as Alli Fey converted a 3-point play and Kati Cassabaum scored twice inside for Nevada.

A Megan Murphy 3-pointer briefly stopped the bleeding for North Polk. But Nevada quickly reasserted itself, going on an 8-1 run to take a 17-point lead.

The Cub lead eventually grew to 19 following a Pringnitz 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. With Murphy forced to the bench with a head injury and center Hannah Becker fouled out it appeared North Polk was doomed.

But all-state forward Miranda Murphy gave the Comets one last charge to make the Cubs sweat things out.

Miranda scored eight points over the next three minutes to help North Polk get within 59-52 with 1:09 left in the final period. But Fey hit two free throws four seconds later to start a run of seven made foul shots in eight attempts by Nevada, and the Comet offense ran out of gas, allowing the Cubs to pull away.

“They’re good and you could tell they were focused and ready to play,” North Polk head coach Clint Albertsen said. “Hats off to them. They played well and Megan getting hurt didn’t help us. But we fought – we didn’t give it to them – so I was proud of our girls.”

North Polk only shot 33 percent from the field and made only 3 of 13 3-pointers. Nevada connected on 46 percent of its shots and converted 8 of 20 3-pointers.

Free throws and rebounding also made a difference. The Cubs were 24 of 37 at the line compared to North Polk’s 15 of 24 showing, and Nevada posted a 34-24 rebounding advantage.

Miranda Murphy finished with 27 points in another terrific individual outing by the all-state forward. She also pulled down seven rebounds and had one steal.

Rachel Zimmermann also played well down the stretch, especially defensively, as she totaled seven points and six steals. Megan Murphy and Macy Gill each had seven points and two rebounds and Megan also ended up with two steals and one assist.

Riley Murphy and Maddy Hill both chipped in two points. Hill and Becker also pulled down five rebounds apiece for the Comets, who fell to 12-4 overall and 11-2 in the conference.

Despite the loss, Albertsen reminded his team after the game that there is still plenty to play for.

“The conference race is nice, but we won it last year and if you get beat in the postseason, it doesn’t matter,” Albertsen said. “Our goal is at the end.”

Nevada improved to 12-3 and 12-1 respectively after notching its eighth win nine games since losing to North Polk last month.

Pringnitz led a balanced Nevada attack with 19 points, seven rebounds, one block and two assists and steals apiece. Fey had 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals; Helton totaled 14 points and Cassabaum came through with 13 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

Nevada 66, North Polk 52

NP 14 7 8 23 – 52

N 12 15 16 23 – 66

North Polk (52) – Macy Gill 2-5 3-5 7, Megan Murphy 2-11 2-3 7, Cali Capaldo 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Maddy Hill 1-6 0-0 2, Rachel Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Murphy 1-1 0-0 2, Miranda Murphy 9-24 8-12 27, Rachel Zimmermann 2-4 2-4 7, Rebecca Rimathe 0-0 0-0 0, Allison Hale 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-52 15-24 52. 3-point field goals (3): Me. Murphy, Mi. Murphy, Zimmermann. Rebounds (24): Mi. Murphy 7. Assists (1): Me. Murphy. Steals (10): Zimmermann 6. Blocks: None.

Nevada (66) – Claire Ausman 0-2 0-0 0, Abby Stephenson 1-1 1-2 3, Megan Pringnitz 6-16 3-6 19, Emma Lodestein 0-0 1-2 1, Alli Fey 3-4 9-11 16, Jessica Helton 3-8 5-6 14, Kati Cassabaum 4-6 5-10 13. Totals: 17-37 24-37 66. 3-point field goals (8): Pringnitz 4, Helton 3, Fey. Rebounds (34): Cassabaum 15. Assists (13): Lodestein 5. Steals (10): Fey 3, Helton 3. Blocks (4): Cassabaum 4.

ALLEMAN – North Polk atoned for its first loss of the season Jan. 21 as the Comets took down Gilbert by a 53-40 score at Alleman.

North Polk had suffered a 62-59 loss at Gilbert on Dec. 10. The second time around, the Comets played much smarter on offense and tougher on defense to take care of their conference rivals.

The Comets led 31-25 at the half and then clamped down defensively in the third quarter. North Polk limited Gilbert to four points in the third to build a 14-point lead that enabled them to coast home in the fourth for their 11th Heart of Iowa Conference victory.

Gilbert only shot 30 percent from the field against North Polk’s tough defense. The Tigers were also only 5 of 21 from 3-point range.

North Polk shot 43 percent from the field and the Comets went 10 of 15 at the foul line.

Megan Murphy had 17 points and Miranda Murphy finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks to pace North Polk. Macy Gill tacked on 10 points and two steals, Rachel Zimmermann tallied five points and four rebounds and Hannah Becker pulled down seven boards and blocked one shot.

Hillary Mosiman led Gilbert with 16 points and two steals. Paige Hoiberg delivered seven points, two assists and one block and Taylor Broshar finished with six points and rebounds apiece for the Tigers.

North Polk 53, Gilbert 40

G 12 13 4 11 – 40

NP 14 17 12 10 – 53

Gilbert (40) – Olivia Tibben 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Reed 0-4 0-0 0, Hillary Mosiman 6-17 0-0 16, Madison Blum 1-3 2-2 4, Paige Hoiberg 2-9 2-5 7, Taylor Broshar 2-8 2-3 6, Elise Powers 2-3 1-2 5, Jane Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Chase DeBont 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 14-46 7-12 40. 3-point field goals (5): Mosiman 4, Hoiberg. Rebounds (30): Broshar 6, Powers 6. Assists (7): Reed 2, Hoiberg 2. Steals (4): Mosiman 2. Blocks (2): Blum, Hoiberg.

North Polk (53) – Macy Gill 3-8 4-5 10, Megan Murphy 6-13 3-4 17, Hannah Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Maddy Hill 1-2 0-0 2, Riley Murphy 1-5 0-0 3, Miranda Murphy 7-12 2-3 16, Rachel Zimmermann 2-6 1-3 5. Totals: 20-47 10-15 53. 3-point field goals (3): Me. Murphy 2, R. Murphy. Rebounds (27): Mi. Murphy 10. Assists (4): Gill, R. Murphy, Mi. Murphy, Zimmermann. Steals (10): Mi. Murphy 4. Blocks (3): Mi. Murphy 2.

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