Ballard girls suffer first loss at the hands of North Polk: No. 2 Bombers top No. 4 Gilbert at home

Joe Randleman
Tri-County Times
Ballard's Brooke Loewe goes up for a shot between Gilbert's Emma Kruse and Emma Bulman (21) during the No. 2 Bombers' 50-42 victory over the No. 4 Tigers Feb. 2 at Huxley.

ALLEMAN – The No. 2 (Class 4A) Ballard girls’ basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Friday. 

The Bombers were upset by No. 13 North Polk, 44-37. 

Ballard couldn’t get anything going on offense in the second half. The Bombers were outscored 23-12 over the final two quarters in falling to 16-1 overall and 13-1 in the Raccoon River Conference. 

The Bombers led 25-21 at the break, overcoming a rough defensive start by outscoring the Comets 15-1 in the second quarter. But North Polk came back to tie the score at 31-31 after three quarters and the Comets held the Bombers to six points over the final eight minutes to pull in front. 

Free throws were a big difference maker in the game. North Polk was 16 of 22 from the charity stripe and Ballard only went 2 of 5. 

Ballard did a great job taking care of the ball in finishing with just five turnovers. The Bombers also held North Polk to 31.4 % shooting from the field. 

But Ballard only shot 27.8 % from the field. The Bombers made 5 of 21 3-pointers compared to North Polk’s 6 of 17 effort. 

Brooke Loewe had 11 points, six rebounds, six steals and five assists for Ballard in the loss. Josie Fleischmann made three 3-pointers and scored nine points, Meg Rietz had six points, seven rebounds and two blocks and Molly Ihle finished with five points, 10 boards and three assists. 

Cassidy Thompson chipped in five points and seven rebounds. Ashley Wuestenberg added one point and two rebounds. 

North Polk improved to 11-7 overall and 10-5 in the conference. Lucy Shaffer had 12 points and four rebounds, Makayla Boatman also scored 12 points, Hannah Foster drained three 3s and netted nine points and Sydney Anderson was a monster on the glass with 17 rebounds for the Comets. 

North Polk 44, Ballard 37 

B      10   15     6     6 – 37 

NP   20     1   10   13 – 44 

Ballard (37) - Brooke Loewe 5-15 1-3 11, Meg Rietz 3-8 0-0 6, Cassidy Thompson 2-7 0-0 5, Josie Fleischmann 3-12 0-0 9, Molly Ihle 2-11 0-0 5, Ashley Wuestenberg 0-0 1-2 1, Lily Hillebrand 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 15-54 2-5 37. 3-point field goals (5): Fleischmann 3, Thompson, Ihle. Rebounds (34): Ihle 10. Assists (9): Loewe 5. Steals (7): Loewe 6. Blocks (3): Rietz 2. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Loewe. 

North Polk (44) - Makayla Boatman 3-11 5-6 12, Lucy Schaffer 3-9 5-5 12, Abi Zimmer 0-3 2-2 2, Sydney Anderson 0-2 2-5 2, Hannah Foster 3-5 0-0 9, Liza Schaffer 1-4 2-2 5, Morgan Gray 1-1 0-2 2. Totals: 11-35 16-22 44. 3-point field goals (6): Foster 3, Boatman, Lu. Schaffer, Li. Schaffer. Rebounds (35): Anderson 17. Assists (6): Lu. Schaffer 2. Steals (3): Zimmer, Anderson, Foster. Blocks: None. Fouls: 9. 

HUXLEY – Ballard’s Meg Rietz had been getting the job done defensively for No. 2 (Class 4A) Ballard as the third quarter was winding down in its Raccoon River Conference showdown with No. 4 Gilbert Feb. 2. 

But the Bombers needed her to provide a lift on offense after Gilbert had tied the game at 31-31 on a 3-pointer from all-state guard Ava Hawthorne with 1:43 left in the quarter.  

Ballard did a great job working the ball around for an open shot on its next possession. The ball made its way to Rietz on the wing.  

She drilled a 3-pointer from the wing with 50 seconds left in the quarter to break a 31-31 tie.  

“That was big,” Ballard guard Molly Ihle said.  

From there it was all Ballard. Great defense and free-throw shooting helped Ballard pull away to pull off a season sweep of the Tigers with a 50-42 victory. 

“These are fun games,” Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson said. “Gilbert is a great team and to beat them twice this year is pretty special. I’m just super-proud of this group. They’re so much fun and they play so hard.” 

Rietz finished the game with seven points and six rebounds. But it was her defense that was the big difference maker in the game. 

Rietz used her 6-0 frame and long reach to help hold athletic 5-10 Tiger forward Emma Bulman to just five points after Bulman entered the game averaging 16.  

“It’s a team concept – it's not just me,” Rietz said. “Yes, sometimes I stop the ball. But the other girls are guarding their girls just as much. It’s a team thing.” 

Anderson echoed Rietz’s position on team defense. But he couldn’t help but gush about her abilities as an all-around performer. 

“Meg has got so much potential,” Anderson said. “We keep trying to tell her that to get her to that point. If she ever does, she’s going to be something pretty special and she’s showing more of it every time.” 

Rietz was all over the court on defense, forcing a five-second call on Gilbert guard Katie Currans to start the third quarter then later in the quarter going down low and blocking 6-0 Tiger post Thea Rotto – who had been on a tear having scored 10 points up to that point. 

“She’s got quick feet and long arms,” Ballard guard Molly Ihle said. “That’s a bad combination for other offenses.” 

Ihle knows a little something about defense. In the first meeting between the Bombers and Tigers she held Hawthorne, a Drake verbal commit, to one field goal and four points in a 39-33 Bomber victory. 

Thanks to her outside shot and the ability to get to the line Hawthorne fared much better on Tuesday. She made four 3-pointers and 5 of 6 free throws in going for a game-high 19 points and adding four rebounds.  

“Ava is an awesome player and an awesome person,” Ihle said. “She’s just a great person to play against.” 

But Ihle was right with her, scoring 18 points and finishing with four rebounds and steals apiece plus three assists. 

“I love Molly – she's the best defender out there,” Hawthorne said. “We play with each other on Attack, so it’s kind of fun to have a friend out there on the court.” 

Ihle ended up making an impressive 13 of 15 free throws. As a team Ballard was 19 of 22 from the line, making 12 of 14 in the fourth quarter to keep the Tigers at bay. 

The win kept Ballard perfect on the season at 16-0 overall and 13-0 in the RRC.  

Josie Fleischmann hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points – all in the first half – for Ballard. Brooke Loewe had six points, five assists and four steals, Cassidy Thompson six points and two steals and Lily Hillebrand two points for the Bombers. 

Josie Fleischmann hit three 3s and scored 11 points in Ballard's 50-42 victory over Gilbert Feb. 2 in Huxley.

Gilbert fell to 12-4 overall and 9-4 in the RRC.  

It was the third-straight loss for the Tigers. They fell at North Polk Jan. 22, 64-56, and suffered a 43-39 home loss to Winterset without Rotto and Johnson last Friday. 

Gilbert looked much sharper against the Bombers then it did in those previous two games. 

“I am proud of how we played,” Hawthorne said. “It’s definitely a better team with our two posts. We played as one tonight. We’re getting out of our slump and we’re ready to go.” 

Rotto ended up with 12 points and three rebounds. Johnson added four points and five rebounds. 

Ballard 50, Gilbert 42 

G     8    12   11   11 – 42 

B    14   15     5    16 – 50 

Gilbert (42) - Katie Currans 0-1 0-0 0, Ava Hawthorne 5-10 5-6 19, Emma Kruse 0-0 1-2 1, Emma Bulman 1-7 2-2 5, Thea Rotto 4-7 4-6 12, Sydney Lynch 0-1 1-2 1, Nessa Johnson 2-9 0-0 4, Ellie Bulman 0-0 0-0 0, Raney Kruse 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-35 13-18 42. 3-point field goals (5): Hawthorne 4, Em. Bulman. Rebounds (13): Johnson 5. Assists (3): Hawthorne, Kruse, Em. Bulman. Steals (7): Em. Bulman 2. Blocks: None. Fouls: 16. 

Ballard (50) - Brooke Loewe 2-11 2-2 6, Meg Rietz 2-5 2-2 7, Cassidy Thompson 3-7 0-0 6, Josie Fleischmann 3-9 2-3 11, Molly Ihle 2-5 13-15 18, Kiley Rigby 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Wuestenberg 0-0 0-0 0, Lily Hillebrand 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 13-34 19-22 50. 3-point field goals (5): Fleischmann 3, Rietz, Ihle. Rebounds (22): Rietz 6. Assists (10): Loewe 5. Steals (13): Loewe 4, Ihle 4. Blocks (4): Rietz 2. Fouls: 13.