Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Janel Burgess played basketball at Iowa State.
She still carries one of Bill Fennelly’s philosophies:
“We want to shoot the ball before we throw it away,” she said.
Class 1A ninth-ranked Montezuma (9-1) shoots it often and shoots it far. The Bravettes average 10.2 3-pointers per game, in 29.2 attempts. More than half of their attempts have come from long distance.
“Some things never change, huh?” Burgess said. “We’ve got kids at all five positions that can shoot.”
You could be forgiven if you thought the Bravettes would take a step backward after three consecutive state-tournament trips. Three starters graduated, including Shateah Wetering, who now is at the University of Iowa.
“The players in the uniforms have changed a little, but we didn’t want things to change,” said Burgess, now in her fourth season and the owner of an 84-9 record at her alma mater. “We shoot well, we play well defensively, and our senior leadership has been dynamic.”
Senior Elise Boulton leads the team at 17.1 points per game. She shoots 45.5 percent from long range, but is more than just a long-range chucker. She has become a handy all-around point guard, contributing 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game.
Boulton is one of four double-figure scorers; sophomore Elise Boulton (10.9 points per game), junior Shanae Wetering (10.1) and senior Dylan Holland (10.0 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) are the others.
“It’s cool to watch Shanae come into her own and be her own player,” Burgess said. “Dylan is a blue-collar player who does everything we ask.
“It’s a very unique group. There’s no glitz or glamour here.”
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The Bravettes, who average more than 16 steals per game, opened with a 63-53 loss to Pella Christian, then have followed with nine straight victories by an average of 40.3 points. They have won all seven of their South Iowa Cedar League encounters by 29 points or more.
North Fayette Valley is perfect at the break
Six area teams take unblemished records into the holiday break, including one significant surprise.
Bolstered by a 50-46 win over preseason Upper Iowa Conference favorite Turkey Valley on Dec. 8, North Fayette Valley is 7-0.
“The girls are having some fun, and this is by far the most depth I’ve had,” said Jim Calkins, in his ninth year as NFV head coach.
Senior Abby Reichter leads the team at 14.3 points per game, and the TigerHawks have been aided by the arrival of senior Regan Griffith (9.0 ppg), who moved into the district when her father was hired as superintendent.
“The girls have meshed well,” Calkins said. “They’re starting to understand what it takes to become a competitive team, and now they’re a team that can win against just about anybody.”
The TigerHawks’ perfection will be put to the test twice shortly after the break, at MFL MarMac (Jan. 8) and at home against Waukon (Jan. 11).
Also unbeaten are Tri-Rivers Conference West Division rivals Springville (9-0), Maquoketa Valley (7-0) and North Linn (6-0), along with Cedar Rapids Washington (5-0) and Iowa City West (2-0).
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