Central women’s basketball team dominates Puerto Rico finale

Central College

Central College

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The Central College women’s basketball team dominated the defensive end of the floor and the glass in a 47-33 win over tournament host Sacred Heart (P.R.) Sunday morning at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Dutch (8-3 overall) posted a season-best defensive effort, holding Sacred Heart to 33 points on 12-of-42 shooting (28.6 percent) and hauling in 19 more rebounds (48-29), including 20 offensive boards. In addition, Central tallied nine steals and only eight turnovers—one less its previous best performance this season, a nine-turnover effort Dec. 11 against William Penn. It also marked the first time this season the Dutch registered more steals than turnovers in a game.

“We did a terrific job rebounding and taking care of the ball,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “It was another great defensive performance, but we executed a lot better on the offensive end, which was the difference. We took advantage of our opportunities.”

Guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) led the way with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. She also notched four assists, three rebounds and two steals without a single turnover. Guard Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge) and forward Jessy Stika (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS) joined Vander Molen in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Evans chipped in eight rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Stika was in on nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. Guard Emily Neff (freshman, Cedar Falls) also grabbed eight rebounds.

“We struggled a little bit in the first half, but we worked the ball and increased our shooting percentage in the second,” said Petersen. “We were much more aggressive, attacking the rim and forcing turnovers. We built momentum early and it paid off.”

Petersen also noted the play of forward Jessi Butters (freshman, Kalona, Mid-Prairie HS), who played nine minutes off the bench and recorded four points and two rebounds.

“Jessi did a terrific job,” Petersen said. “She brought a ton of energy off the bench, boxed out and was a spark to our team when we needed it.”

Central takes a brief hiatus before opening Iowa Conference play against Luther College (7-2 overall) Jan. 8 at Pella. Last season the Norse finished sixth in the standings, two games in front of the Dutch. The two teams split the two-game series last season, with the home team earning the win in both instances.

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