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Everyone in TLC chasing Newell-Fonda

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Newell-Fonda’s Ella Larsen shoots over Council Bluffs St. Albert’s Keely Socha during a Class 1A quarterfinal on Wednesday inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net

NEWELL — The road to the Twin Lakes Conference title continues to run though Newell-Fonda.

The two-time defending state champions have a stranglehold on the TLC, winning each of the past three league crowns with unblemished 11-0 marks.

But it hasn’t been without a fight.

Last year, half of the 12-team conference finished with at least 11 wins. And while the Mustangs enter as the odds-on favorite to make it four in a row, several programs are looking to knock them from the perch.

“Our conference will be challenging and every game is going to be important if you want to have a chance to win,” N-F head coach Dick Jungers said. “Generally, the team that holds its home-court and wins the winnable games on the road will be in contention for winning the conference.

“It will be up to our kids to be ready every night to earn us that opportunity.”

The Mustangs return four starters from a unit that went 27-0 and captured a second consecutive Class 1A title. Seniors Maggie Walker, Bailey Sievers and Ella Larsen are joined by junior Macy Sievers with five other key returnees also back.

Just prior to Newell-Fonda’s stretch of success both in the league and at the state tournament, Pocahontas Area was on top. The Indians, led by current Missouri State standout Elle Ruffridge, won a pair of state titles.

Last year, Robert Maske had Pocahontas Area right back in contention, but the Indians graduated four key seniors. Sophomores Akaysa Duitscher and Carly Janssen take over the team and bring plenty of firepower to the offense.

“The TLC is rich with quality teams,” Maske said. “We finished third a year ago and I’d like to think we are in position to improve on that.”

Emmetsburg was the conference runner-up, falling only once to Newell-Fonda. The E-Hawks were also hit by graduation with six players departing including double-double machine Molly Schany.

South Central Calhoun, always in the thick of it in the TLC, has a new coach in Brady Dicks. A Newell-Fonda graduate, Dicks shined in several sports for the Mustangs before playing at Buena Vista.

The Titans boast five players with starting experience including leading scorers Riley Batta, Brielle Korleski and Kylee Schleisman.

“Newell-Fonda is the team to beat, but there should be a good race for second,” Dicks said. “I think Emmetsburg, Pocahontas Area, Sioux Central and Storm Lake St. Mary’s are all teams who should be pretty solid.”

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