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Iowa girls basketball: In a gritty performance, H-LP nips G-LR 39-38

CALEB NELSON/DAILY GLOBE Harris-Lake Park sophomore Katherin Ihnen (15) posts up against George-Little Rock junior Danielle Eben (32) Thursday night in George. 2 / 3
CALEB NELSON/DAILY GLOBE Harris-Lake Park senior Macy Gunderson (21) fakes a shot against George-Little Rock junior Teyha Graham (24) Thursday night. 3 / 3

GEORGE, Iowa —A dismal first quarter that produced just two points didn’t do George-Little Rock any favors in a non-conference girls basketball game against Harris-Lake Park on Thursday.

The Mustangs fought tooth-and-nail but were unable to overcome the rough start. H-LP earned a 39-38 triumph and ran its record to 7-4 on the season.

It was a gutsy one for the Wolves on a night where shooting was about as cold as temperatures looming outside the gym’s walls. The victory was Harris-Lake Park’s fourth against a tough slate of non-conference opponents.

“Obviously we wanted to play better but, defensively, I thought we played really well. Anytime you can get a win against George-Little Rock, it’s going to be a good win,” Wolves co-head coach Eric Clouse said after the game in George. “George is always going to be a tough out. They’re aggressive and physical. It was the first time our girls have won in this gym. It was good to get over that hump finally.”

The Wolves led 8-2 after the first frame and senior Noreen Morrow, on a second chance bucket, pushed the team’s advantage to 10 points midway through the second quarter at 14-4. George-Little Rock stuck around, however, and mounted a 10-0 run to rally before halftime. Mustangs junior Teyha Graham had a three-pointer, a steal and another layup that aided in the stretch that helped the Mustangs cling to life.

G-LR trailed by three going into the final eight minutes and had its chances down the stretch. With her Mustangs trailing 37-36 with 40 seconds to go, G-LR sophomore Mariah Terhark sank a mid-range jumper, but the 38-37 advantage would be short-lived.

With just 10 seconds left, after Morrow and Danielle Eben had missed their free throws, Katherin Ihnen sank hers. She rolled two home for the win.

“It was nerve racking, but I knew I had to go up there with confidence,” Ihnen said. “Nice and easy, and it went in.”

Morrow, while scoring only 11 points, had two key blocks down the stretch which aided the team’s win. Her second came at the buzzer, from point-blank range, as she denied a layup by Graham from under the bucket for G-LR.

While the final score indicated an exciting finish, G-LR coach Heather Grafing knew that wasn’t the difference in the game.

“That first quarter is probably the worst I’ve seen George-Little Rock play in six years,” Grafing exclaimed after the game. “Offensively we were so laid back. I don’t know if Morrow’s presence was discouraging us or not, but usually we attack a lot better than that.

“People will probably see the ending to the game and think it was lost then, but it wasn’t. It was lost in that first quarter” she continued. “I thought we played better the rest of the game, especially defensively. We just didn’t have enough offense tonight.”

H-LP’s win was a balanced one in the scorebook. Morrow was the only player in double-figures. Ihnen, point guard Macy Gunderson and Mikey Heikens each contributed seven. George-Little Rock’s Graham scored 13 and Terhark added 10.

“They played really tough on the defensive side, which made it tough for us,” Clouse said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes, but a lot of them were on their pressure. Noreen only ended up with 11 and that will be an off night for her.

“If we can continually get six, seven or eight points from girls like Macy and Mikey, Noreen is going to get her 20 points most of the time.”

The Wolves travel to Everly tonight (Friday) for a Cornbelt Conference game against Clay Central Everly. H-LP beat CCE 57-41 in Lake Park on Dec. 19. George-Little Rock, now 2-6 on its campaign, entertains Central Lyon tonight.

“It was just a good team win. We need these tough one-point wins,” Clouse said. “However ugly they are, we need those types of wins. Hopefully they’ll help us as the season goes on.”

H-LP 8 20 30 39

G-LR 2 16 27 38

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
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