TRURO – Taking momentum from the opening tip to the final buzzer, a complete group effort carried Nodaway Valley to a 57-39 win over Central Decatur Thursday, sealing its first District championship since the 2014-15 season.
Facing the athletic and deep Cardinal group, co-head coach James Larson said preparation was a major factor contributing to the win.
“I was watching film on them Monday and Tuesday night just getting ready for it,” said Larson.
Larson and Nodaway Valley knew how pivotal Cole Pedersen and Michel Evertsen are to the flow of the Cardinals’ game, so Larson put a major emphasis on stopping the duo.
“Gameplan going in, clog up the paint,” said Larson. “We knew some of those guys were going to hit some threes, but really hold Pedersen and Evertsen to as few points as possible. I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Pedersen scored 12 points for a team-high. Evertsen entered the game averaging 14.8, finishing with five.
As Pedersen entered the game 10th in the Pride of Iowa in rebounds, he was held out of the lane, as Central Decatur was limited to second-chance opportunities.
The Cardinals grabbed 21 rebounds, three coming on the offensive end.
Hot start fuels NV
Nodaway Valley opened the game hot offensively to take the momentum, while Central Decatur struggled to shoot the 3-pointer.
Getting the ball to the high-post, the Wolverines were able to run the offense they wanted as the ball made its way around the key to open players. With things going Nodaway Valley’s way, it took a 9-2 lead behind a contested layup from Clay Hohertz to force a Central Decatur timeout.
Swarming Pedersen on the defensive end and having a defender close out on Evertsen, the Cardinals were forced to find other options scoring. Central Decatur didn’t find that next option as the Cardinals struggled shooting the ball early.
Tyler Vandewater, Toby Bower and Mason Menefee knocked down three consecutive threes before Pedersen responded with a layup to end the quarter down 18-9.
Bower and Menefee ended the game with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The Cardinals responded with back-to-back 3-pointers of their own before a Menefee floater in the lane extended the lead back to eight, 25-17.
Nodaway Valley ended the quarter with back-to-back threes from Bower to fuel the Wolverine crowd and bench as they took a 33-22 lead at the half.
The second half saw major minutes off the bench for Nodaway Valley. Central Decatur struggled to score against the Wolverines’ defense with Nodaway Valley freshman Avery Phillippi playing a crucial role in holding Central Decatur to four points in the third.
Taking a 38-26 lead into the fourth, Phillippi knocked down a shot in the Wolverines’ 6-2 run to start the quarter before Central Decatur called a timeout.
Beginning to extend possessions, second-chance opportunities became a major factor late.
With time winding down on Central Decatur’s season, the Wolverines got into the bonus with 2:38 remaining and ended the game going 5-for-9 from the free-throw line.
Keeping Central Decatur at bay in pivotal points of the game, Vandewater attributes the ability to hit shots or get stops in important times as part of the unity the team has.
The Cardinals end the season with a 16-7 overall record, 10-4 in the Pride of Iowa and tied for third place.
Nodaway Valley 57, Central Decatur 39
CD (39) — 9 15 4 13
NV (57) — 18 15 5 19
CENTRAL DECATUR (FG FT PTS) — Totals —15 3-7 39. Cole Pedersen 5 2-5 12, Trey Hullinger 3 0-0 8, Michel Evertsen 2 0-0 5, Matthew Boothe 2 0-0 5, Tyke Hullinger 1 1-2 3, Kolby Hewlett 1 0-0 3, Hayden Leymaster 1 0-0 3. 3-point goals – 6 (Trey Hullinger 2, Evertsen, Hewlett, Leymaster, Boothe). Team fouls — 13. Fouled out — None.
NODAWAY VALLEY (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 20 10-15 57. Toby Bower 5 2-2 15, Mason Menefee 5 2-5 14, Tyler Vandewater 4 1-2 10, Clay Hohertz 1 5-6 7, Avery Phillippi 3 0-0 6, Joshua Baudler 2 0-0 5. 3-point goals — 7 (Bower 3, Menefee 2, Vandewater, Baudler). Team fouls — 11. Fouled out — None.