The honeymoon period continues, nearly two years after Janel Burgess was hired to coach her alma mater.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s a great school with great kids. It’s a privilege to have my husband (Tim) on the bench with me.
“It’s been a great fit for us.”
Winning doesn’t hurt, either.
A 1994 graduate of Montezuma High School, Burgess returned to the Poweshiek County seat to raise her family in the same locale in which she grew up.
As Janel Grimm, Burgess, now 43, she played basketball for Iowa State, then served as an assistant at Maine, Northern Illinois, Michigan State and Missouri State before becoming a head coach at Grand Valley State. There, she compiled a 137-84 mark and led two teams to the NCAA Division-II tournament.
In her first year back at Montezuma, Burgess led the Bravettes to a 20-4 mark and a Class 1A berth at the state tournament, losing a competitive first-round game to Central Decatur, 52-48. This edition is 16-1 overall, and at 13-0 in South Iowa Cedar League, has wrapped up at least a share of the West Division championship.
Montezuma is ranked No. 3 in the small-school class.
“It’s a basketball town, girls and boys,” Burgess said. “It’s something that Montezuma is proud of. Fifty years ago, we won a state championship, and we’ve always had great players.”
Junior Shateah Wetering is the most recent. A University of Iowa commit, Wetering is averaging 18 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, shooting 56 percent from the field.
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Senior Riley Gatton (11.6 ppg) will play at Des Moines Area Community College next season, and sophomore Elise Boulton (9.4 ppg) already is the school’s all-time career leader in 3-pointers.
Burgess did not come into a barren program; Montezuma was 39-9 in the two seasons before her arrival. She did tinker with the culture, though.
“We had to emphasize that team is the more important thing,” she said. “Not everybody is going to score 15 points per game. We might need you to be a defensive stopper or a rebounder, or to help us off the bench. Everybody needs to have a role.”
Idling, idling, idling ...
The last two weeks have been Lemony Snicket in nature.
“It’s just been some unfortunate events,” Monticello Coach Donnie Kremer said.
Monticello is one of three area teams — Anamosa and West Liberty are the others — that, due to snow and/or cold, haven’t played since Jan. 15. That’s 16 days and counting.
“It’s something you can’t really control,” Kremer said. “The girls have gotten out and shot at the rec center in town, but other than that, there’s not much that can be done.”
The glut of postponements since mid-January throughout the state leaves two alternatives for the rest of the season — a glut of games in a short amount of time, or games that won’t be made up.
Marion, for example, has five games scheduled in a six-day span, starting with West Delaware on the road Thursday.
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