Prep Basketball

Girls' basketball notes: Cascade still is stingy, but now scoring a lot, too

Senior cast has Mike Sconsa's team at 10-0 and No. 1 in Class 2A

Cascade's Nicole McDermott (0) makes a basket over the hand of Dike-New Hartford's Morgan Weber during their Class 2A st
Cascade's Nicole McDermott (0) makes a basket over the hand of Dike-New Hartford's Morgan Weber during their Class 2A state-quarterfinal game last season. McDermott has led the Cougars to a 10-0 start. (The Gazette)

You can still call the Cascade Cougars a defense-oriented girls’ basketball team.

But defense-only? Forget that.

Ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, the Cougars (10-0 overall, 9-0 River Valley Conference) are scoring at a more-than-tidy clip of 63.7 points per game.

“We get out and run a little more this year, and we’re able to get decent looks,” Cascade Coach Mike Sconsa said. “Our first line of offense is to try to get out in transition. If not, we’ll pull it out and try to execute our half-court offense.”

The added punch is a luxury. When the Cougars won the 2A state championship in 2018, they averaged 54.1 points per game. Last year, on the way to the 2A state semifinals, it was 58.1 per contest.

Sconsa has a veteran crew, led by senior point guard Nicole McDermott. The Clarke University commit is averaging 17.5 points per game, shooting 61.6 percent from the floor, and leading the team in rebounds (5.5 per game), assists (3.6) and steals (3.8).

“She’s a lot stronger, more physical than she’s been in the past,” Sconsa said. “She’s finishing better at the rim.

“I’ve coached kids more athletic than Nicole, but her feel for the game ... it’s very, very hard to match. She’s the best competitor I’ve ever had.”

Seniors Skylar Dolphin and Abby Welter add 11.4 and 9.4 points per game, respectively. And Jordan Simon adds 3.1 assists per game and leads the team in blocks.

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“Jordan has a rare knack, she’s 5-11 and long with phenomenal timing,” Sconsa said. “She’s our all-time career leader in blocks, and one of our best passers.”

The heightened scoring attack doesn’t mean the Cougars have neglected the other end of the floor. They are allowing 32.8 points per game, the third-best defensive rate in 2A.

“Everything we do still starts with our defense,” Sconsa said.

Biggest test yet for Marion

Marion has won 72 consecutive games against Wamac Conference competition in a streak that dates back to January 2016.

The 4A second-ranked Indians (8-0 overall, 8-0 Wamac) face a formidable hurdle Friday at No. 10 DeWitt Central (9-1, 8-1).

Josh Claypool has succeeded Corby Laube as the Indians’ head coach, and the beat goes on. Marion boasts three Division-I commits in senior Kayba Laube (21.0 points per game) and juniors Ella Van Weelden (13.3) and Riley Wright (12.1), and the emergence of sophomore Sadie Struchen (10.4) provides another good option.

Central suffered its first loss of the season Tuesday against No. 3 Center Point-Urbana, 49-47. Sophomores Taylor Veach (19.2 ppg) and Allison Meadows (15.2) pace the Sabers.

New members of 1,000-point club

Three area players surpassed the 1,000-point career plateau Tuesday.

A Western Illinois signee, Mallory McDermott scored 35 points in Cedar Rapids Prairie’s 62-53 win over Cedar Falls, pushing her career total to 1,001 points. Teammate Sidney McCrea has scored 1,034.

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 Erica Hoffman tallied 20 points as East Buchanan handed Springville its first loss of the season, 61-45. She has scored 1,018 career points.

 Bailey Winter’s 16 points helped MFL MarMac avenge a previous loss to North Fayette Valley, 56-36 and moved her to 1,004 for her career.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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