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Gaels open season against Garrigan

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Kaylyn Meyers of Bishop Garrigan goes up for a shot against St. Edmond on Tuesday in Fort Dodge

CJ Tracy knew the season opener for his St. Edmond girls would be the ultimate test.

Tracy and the Gaels kicked off the 2020-21 campaign against defending Class 1A state runner-up and second-ranked Bishop Garrigan here Tuesday night, falling 91-15.

The Golden Bears (1-0 overall) raced out to a commanding 38-1 lead after the opening eight minutes, shooting a red-hot 16-for-23 from the field including five 3-pointers. Sophomore sensation Molly Joyce scored 12 of her 25 during that stretch with senior Kaylyn Meyers adding nine of her 23.

Joyce and Meyers also combined for 11 steals with 10th-grader Audi Crooks adding 18 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

For the Gaels (0-1), Leah Neverman scored six points with four rebounds and a blocked shot.

“Bishop Garrigan is one of the top programs in the state and that’s where we want to be,” Tracy said. “Obviously we aren’t there yet but these girls showed me plenty of positives that we can build upon over the next several days.

“We had to start somewhere, and while this was a tough one to start with, we know what we need to work on now.”

Last year, the Golden Bears were greeted by newcomers Joyce and Crooks to an already-experienced roster. The two earned all-state honors as freshmen and have picked up numerous college offers since.

With a season under their belts together, Garrigan displayed the kind of patience head coach Brandon Schwab wanted to see.

“We took what St. Edmond gave us,” Schwab said. “Teams are going to focus on stopping Audi and when that happens, she knows to move the ball to an open teammate. I thought she did a great job of that (Tuesday night).

“It was great to get out there and get our feet wet. You really don’t know how many times you are going to get to do that this year, so we are just embracing each opportunity to play.”

Joyce was nearly-perfect from the field, making her first four attempts and finishing 11-for-15. She hit six consecutive over the second and third periods.

Meyers, who committed to Grand View University, made her first six field goals and went 10 of 12 with Crooks finishing 9-for-11.

Kelly Baade, a senior, came off the bench to score nine, making three triples. As a team, the Golden Bears made eight 3-pointers on the night including seven in the first half.

“I thought we did a nice job of shooting the basketball,” Schwab said. “When we had the right shot within our offense, we took it.”

Of the 10 players who played for the Gaels, five were making their varsity debuts including Kiersten Clark, Alyxis Mericle, Mya McClain, Kacey Kruthoff and Alyson Nieland.

“It’s difficult to simulate all of the things that a team like Garrigan does in practice,” Tracy said. “And for some of these girls, this was their first time playing basketball in a while.

“But I liked the fight and grit I saw. Nobody backed down. Kacey and Alyson went right at Crooks when we asked them to.”

Nieland scored three points with a team-high five rebounds and three steals, adding two assists. Avery Galles added three points and two rebounds.

Bishop Garrigan returns to action Dec. 1 when they travel to Belmond-Klemme. The Golden Bears were set to play No. 7 (4A) Cedar Rapids Xavier this week as part of the Rivalry Saturday showcase, but that has been rescheduled to Jan. 30 at Coe College.

St. Edmond travels to Clarion-Goldfield/Dows on Dec. 4.

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