DES MOINES — Dick Jungers wasn’t much of a basketball player at Sheldon High School.
“I wasn’t very good,” he said.
As a coach, though ... that’s a different story.
Jungers has crafted a small-school girls’ basketball giant at Newell-Fonda. The Mustangs, defending Class 1A state champions, extended their winning streak to 52 games with a 77-47 rout of Council Bluffs St. Albert on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
They did it in typical fashion, forcing St. Albert into 29 turnovers, including 23 in the first half, with a suffocating full-court press.
“It takes everybody,” said junior Ella Larsen. “We have a lot of energy. We don’t slack off. If we’re up by 50, we don’t stop until the clock says zero.
“It’s a lot of fun to play this way.”
But it no fun to face it. No fun at all.
“It’s just my personality,” Jungers said. “I like to get after people.”
The Mustangs are No. 1 in the state (all classes) in scoring (74.8 points per game), assists per game (18.8) and steals per game (20.7).
Their average margin of victory is 42.6 points per game. And it’s not just their Twin Lakes Conference rivals that they’re blistering.
Newell-Fonda’s non-conference slate included games against Western Christian, Spirit Lake, Cherokee and South South City (Neb.), all perennially strong, bigger schools. The Mustangs whipped them by scores of 62-52, 64-32, 84-40 and 76-46.
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According to the BC Moore computer, which measures strength of high-school teams in Iowa, Newell-Fonda is ranked No. 3 in all classes, behind only 5A programs Waukee and West Des Moines Dowling, and ahead of everybody else.
Newell-Fonda has been one of the top 1A programs since the advent of five-player basketball, reaching the state tournament 15 times in the last 26 years. The run included state titles in 2015 and 2019, and six runner-up finishes.
“The big thing is that parents are passionate here,” said Jungers, who owns a 391-68 record in 18 seasons. “They start the kids young. And our whole school in in one building, so there’s a lot of interaction between our high-school kids and the elementary kids.”
The Mustangs have really upped their game lately, though — the 52-game win streak is seventh longest in five-player history — and the current team has only one senior (Megan Morenz).
Sophomore Macy Sievers and juniors Maggie Walker and Bailey Sievers average 14.2, 13.3 and 10.4 points per game, respectively, and four others score at least 5 points per contest.
If the rest of 1A is looking for light at the end of the tunnel, well, the eighth- and seventh-grade classes are stacked.
“We finally have some height coming up,” Jungers said. “That’s the one thing we’ve been lacking.”
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