Triton women stretch streak

Photo by Paul DeCoursey Justice Crooks drives for Iowa Central against the Buena Vista JV squad on Monday night inside Hodges Fieldhouse. Crooks is a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate.

Kelly Kruger knows that the heart of the schedule is still to come for his Iowa Central women.

But Kruger also realizes that sitting at 6-2 and riding a five-game win streak has only helped build confidence for his young players.

The Tritons overcame a sluggish start here Monday night to down the Buena Vista JV, 66-35, inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

Aaliyah Hull had 13 points off the bench, with Kira Ward and Justice Crooks adding 11 each. Crooks, a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, also had five assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Tierra Itula recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Avery Terwilliger and Brittany West each had eight.

“If you look at our record, it took us three more weeks to get six wins last year,” Kruger said. “In my first year here, we didn’t get six until after Christmas. So, to be honest, we are where I’d like us to be (record-wise). I also understand we haven’t played a great schedule, but we needed to build confidence.

“Over these next eight games, we play seven Div. I junior colleges and Kirkwood, so we are going to find out real quick what we need to do.”

The Beavers, who were coached by former St. Edmond and Iowa Central standout Alison Nagel, were led by Nicole Lange’s game-high 18 points. Nagel is in her first year as the varsity assistant for Buena Vista.

“It was exciting to be back, but it was also business as usual,” Nagel said. “It was fun for our JV team to get to play in front of the Iowa Central crowd.

“Our team has seen really good competition comparable to our conference. We have prepared ourselves to be ready to start those games next week.”

Nagel, who scored 871 points and grabbed 467 rebounds during her two-year Triton career, recalled her fondest playing memory inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

“Beating Kirkwood on our home floor in 2011 was the best memory, but just playing for Coach (Craig) Carlson in general,” she said. “He was one of the reasons I considered coaching.”

Hull, a 6-foot freshman from Illinois, reached double figures for the second time this year and set a new career-high in the process for points, field goals made and attempted. She also grabbed four rebounds.

“Aaliyah has a good pull-up game,” Kruger said. “She’s a long player who plays a lot bigger than her size because of that. I thought she gave us some real nice minutes.”

Kruger also noted the performance of Crooks, who suffered a season-ending injury last year in the opener. The redshirt freshman had seven of her 11 points in the second half as Iowa Central outscored Buena Vista, 33-16, including 15-2 in the fourth quarter.

“Justice has really good instincts and is a great athlete,” Kruger said. “She still has things in her game she can shore up and make better, but overall, she had a good performance and did some nice things for us.”

The Tritons return to action this Friday when they host North Dakota Science at 5 p.m. as part of the Great Western Shootout.

IOWA CENTRAL 66, BUENA VISTA JV 35

Iowa Central — Kira Ward 4-8 3-4 11, Justice Crooks 5-10 0-0 11, Ceairra Smith 0-4 0-0 0, Shariah Smith 1-5 0-0 3, Tierra Itula 4-9 1-2 10, Aaliyah Hull 5-11 3-3 13, Avery Terwilliger 3-9 0-0 8, Jessica Jackson 1-4 0-0 2, Brittany West 3-11 2-2 8. Totals: 26-71 9-11 66.

Buena Vista JV — Micah Barnes 0-7 0-0 0, Dani Boettcher 0-6 3-4 3, Christina Schauer 2-10 1-1 6, Nicole Lange 8-24 1-2 18, Kiarra Sporrer 1-4 0-0 3, Briana Soto 1-3 0-0 2, Tobi Birch 0-1 0-0 0, Maddie Field 1-5 0-0 3. Totals: 13-60 5-7 35.

Quarter scores: Tied 12-12, Iowa Central led 33-19, 51-33. Three-point goals: Iowa Central 6-18 (Crooks 1-4, S. Smith 1-1, Itula 1-2, Terwilliger 2-5, West 0-6); Buena Vista JV 4-25 (Barnes 0-4, Boettcher 0-4, Schauer 1-3, Lange 1-5, Sporrer 1-4, Soto 0-1, Birch 0-1, Field 1-3). Total rebounds: Iowa Central 54, Buena Vista JV 36. Assists: Iowa Central 16, Buena Vista JV 5. Turnovers: Iowa Central 9, Buena Vista JV 15. Blocked shots: Iowa Central 5, Buena Vista JV 1. Team fouls: Iowa Central 7, Buena Vista JV 11.

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