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McLean’s big night leads Redhawks over Crusaders 69-14 in season opener

December 5, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama girls basketball opened their season with a dominant 69-14 win on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 3 as they held Valley Lutheran in check defensively as Rylee McLean had a career night against the Crusaders.

"We played a scrimmage last night against Columbus Catholic and I felt a lot of good things happened," coach Shawn Larmore said. "Going into this game, we wanted to build on those positives. We've been stressing on getting the ball into the post and Rylee had been doing a good job finishing and starting off the season confident."

From tipoff, the Redhawks controlled the game defensively, getting hands into passing lanes and using pressure to force the Crusaders to cough up the ball. North Tama looked to McLean down low for easy scoring under the basket, yet also used turnovers to create easy layups. By halftime, the Redhawks were up big 45-6, 27 of which came from McLean.

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Rylee McLean scored a career-high 33 points at Valley Lutheran on Tuesday, Dec. 3, establishing herself in the post early and often in the season opener.

"This game was exactly what Rylee needed as she gains confidence and knows she has the ability to dominate games," Larmore said. "She's made big improvements over the last year and really worked at it. That's why she's had this success tonight."

The junior post would see limited action in the second half, yet the Redhawks continued to suffocate Valley Lutheran defensively, swarming ball handlers and going for each loose ball to lead to more easy transition buckets for guards such as Aubree Monat, Jules Breakenridge, Lainey Willenbring and Jade Rausch.

"We played with a lot of energy, which was good to see," Larmore said. "Everyone was in the game, moving their feet, causing havoc. Our conditioning has been better than I thought."

The Redhawks kept the Crusaders well out of range of a comeback despite the outside shot not falling for North Tama. Overall, the Redhawks had 29 steals as a team. 69-14 seems like a video game score, yet Lamore knows improvements need to be made offensively.

"Turnovers were a huge issue for us last season and we've been really working to cut down on them," Larmore said. "You're going to see a lot of Aubree and Takoa [Kopriva] on the court at the same time running the point. Aubree had done a great job of running our offense and taking care of the ball. They will definitely have to share."

McLean led the Redhawks with 33 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the win. Abby DeBoef joined her in double figures with 11 points, five rebounds and four steals. Jade Rasuch had seven points off along with four steals, followed by Aubree Monat with six points.

"This season will only get tougher for this team," Larmore said. "Baxter will be a big test to see where we're really at as a team. We've been limited with guards, so it's worked out to give younger girls the experience and minutes this season. Abbey is very athletic and makes things happen defensively for us we really like."

The Redhawks will next host Baxter on Friday, Dec. 6 before hitting the road to Collins-Maxwell on Tuesday, Dec. 10.



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