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A slight tweak to the Highland defense disrupted Iowa Mennonite offense and led to a 51-25 win for Highland, improving their winning streak to seven games headed into the break.
The change into more of a 1-2-2 from Highland’s traditional 2-3 zone took away the 3-point shot and kept Iowa Mennonite 1-15 from beyond the arc Dec. 21.
“This is what we do; we play the zone,” Highland coach Jody Fink said. “We tweaked a couple things on that, and it worked tonight, too.”
Highland guard Sarah Schneider drew the assignment of being on top of the zone and took on a big role in disrupting Suzanna Yoder.
“(Schneider’s) always done a great job of getting up there and getting her hands in the passing lane – she gets tons of tips,” Fink said. “Being up there and hassling Suzanna all the time caused some havoc.”
Iowa Mennonite’s only 3-pointer of the night came with 4:44 left in the first er to take a 3-2 lead. Highland used the changed-up zone and poor shooting from Iowa Mennonite to go on a 13-2 run to close out the quarter and go up 15-5 at the end of the first.
Iowa Mennonite had a solid offensive possession to start the second quarter, with Mia Graber hitting an elbow jumper. From that point Highland went on a 15-0 run to close out the half and essentially the game.
Highland had a big advantage on the offensive glass during the first half, at one point collecting seven offensive rebounds to just one for Iowa Mennonite. Highland held a 23-14 rebounding advantage going into the half.
The first half of the third quarter was all Huskies, as they went on a 6-0 run to start things off. Iowa Mennonite started to get in a slight rhythm heading into the fourth quarter as they scored eight in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started off with a bang for Iowa Mennonite after steals due to defensive pressure led to three straight layups for Yoder. That forced Highland to take a timeout to talk about taking care of the ball.
Coming out of the timeout, Iowa Mennonite forced another Highland turnover and brought the game within 17 at 40-23. Iowa Mennonite came as close as 15, but Highland finished the game on a decisive 11-0 run to slam the door shut on any comeback.
Highland had three finish in double figures with Aly Stokes leading with 13 points; Abbie Miller scored 12, and Schneider added 10. Stokes and Miller had double-doubles on the night as Stokes grabbed 11 rebounds and Miller had 10 rebounds.
Going into the break Stokes is fourth statewide in rebounds per game, and Miller is eighth.
Highland heads into the break 9-2 and halfway through the regular season schedule. Highland plays at Lone Tree on Jan. 4 to start off the second half.
“They’ve all just worked hard every day in practice,” Fink said. “We’ve been able to run our game plans night in and night out.”
Iowa Mennonite is 5-6 heading into the break. They play at Lone Tree on Jan. 8 to resume play after the new year.
Iowa Mennonite: 5; 2; 8; 10; 25
Highland: 15; 15; 10; 11; 51